NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Lawmakers in Westchester County and the Bronx are joining forces to turn up the heat on Amtrak.

They’re accusing the railroad is needlessly delaying a major expansion of Metro-North service into the Bronx, including the creation of four brand new stations.

A site just behind Co-op City is on Metro-North list new train station locations.

It would tie into the MTA’s “East Side Access” project – giving New Haven line commuters a direct route to Penn Station and easy access to Manhattan’s west side.

MTA’s East Side Access plan (Credit: CBS2)

“This is kind of in the middle of nowhere! So it’d be helpful,” one commuter told CBS2’s Tony Aiello.

When the project is finished, the MTA train ride from Penn to Co-op City would be about 30 minutes. That’s 45 minutes less than the current trip by bus.

“It will provide benefits in both directions,” Westchester executive George Latimer said.

Local leaders however, fear Amtrak is derailing the process.

Amtrak trespassing signs near the proposed Metro-North expansion. (Credit: CBS2)

“Every single time Metro-North and the MTA is ready to move forward and sign the agreement, they (Amtrak) continue to push the goal posts backwards,” Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz Jr. claims.

Diaz alleges that Amtrak is not negotiating in good faith.

The borough president says the railroad is demanding that MTA help pay to fix a nearby railroad bridge and others that carry tracks owned by Amtrak.

“We’ve seen this movie before, where there’s delay, delay, delay, and then it costs more!” Diaz explained.

Amtrak claims it’s not being difficult – it’s being careful – and evaluating how the Metro-North expansion would impact its own plans to increase Acela and other services on area tracks.

Critics warn if the company doesn’t get serious about reaching a deal costs will skyrocket and everyone will blame Amtrak.

The MTA says most of the money for building the new Bronx stations is already in the capital plan. If they can work things out with Amtrak, new train service could be just four or five years away.

Comments (2)
  1. Joe Wong says:

    This line was the former New Haven Railroad’s Hell Gate Line from New Rochelle down to Port Morris in the South Bronx. Slamtrak should just negotiate in good faith so that this Metro North expansion could move forward, and would also profit from same.

    1. Joe Wong says:

      Also, The NY Connecting Railroad’s Hell Gate Bridge in 1916 also helped this line gain access into Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan. This line should have been built many years ago, so that residents of Co-op City would have a quick trip into Manhattan instead of riding those diesel belching buses into nearby Pelham Bay Station. Also proposed back in 1968 was an extension of the IRT Pelham Bay Line’s very short extension into Co-op City would have helped relieve the horrible traffic conditions on the New England Thruway as well. Too bad there are not to many people that knows how to plan ahead, instead of taking us into these endless wars in the Middle East.

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