Light Rail
Regional Rail
Penn Station
Livable City Plan

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Aug 2018

George Haikalis in front of Manhattan's little-used West Side rail line, August 2010. Photo: Wayne Fields.The Regional Rail Working Group:
Waking Up the Sleeping Giant
of Metropolitan Mobility

NOTE: Our meetings since November 2012 have been cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy which impacted Hoboken, where we had been holding the meetings.
Stay tuned for info about future meetings!

One of the most important ways to cut down on incessant car use in our city is by improving the interconnectedness of our various regional rail systems, currently run as jealously guarded fiefdoms.

Pictured above: George Haikalis leading one of our
ever-popular AFNY Summer Walking Tours
(August 2010), in front of Manhattan's little-used
West Side rail line, along the waterfront.

Special Guest: TBA
KEY TOPIC: to be announced
Also: Quick Updates on the following:
1. Thru-running at Penn Station
2. Upper Level Loop Alternative for LIRR East Side Access
3. Penn Station-to-Grand Central rail connection [see above]
4. Rockaway Cut-off: a one-seat ride from Midtown to JFK Airport
5. Lower Manhattan Access
6. Regional Rail Freight plan
7. Intercity rail issues

All are welcome at our meetings -- they are free and open to the public, and no reservations are needed! They are held generally on the last Wednesday of each month [NOTE December is an exception]. Please note location announcements for each meeting.

A Brief Introduction:
Our commuter rail network

A great but untapped resource for reducing car use and improving the environment is the extensive network of commuter rail lines serving the NY/NJ/Connecticut metropolitan region. At present this system is focused almost entirely on hauling suburbanite commuters to and from the Manhattan business district, a task it does fairly well. But the commuter rail lines could do much much more. By greatly increasing frequency, and integrating fares with other transit units, the commuter rail lines can be transformed into a truly comprehensive web of regional mobility -- a Regional Rail network.

Our Regional Rail Working Group was formed in 2002 with a simple mission: (1) to accelerate general understanding of the vast potential of NY's commuter rail lines, so as to make up for the chronic failure to communicate these issues by the regional mass media; and (2) to better coordinate the efforts of the area's often underfunded, understaffed and under-promoted transit activist organizations. The purpose of the working group is to develop and advance plans for converting the region's balkanized commuter rail lines, now run as de facto private fiefdoms, into a truly regional rail system, with fast, frequent service and affordable, integrated fares. Our Penn Station Metro-Hub plan sets the stage for doing this, with subsequent steps being access to Lower Manhattan and the Penn Station-Grand Central link. Finally, the group also considers changes to rapid transit and light rail transit that are "regional" in scale.

The working group's
three main initiatives:

1. The Penn Station Metro-Hub

2. Streamlining LIRR Access to Grand Central Terminal

3. The Liberty Links (in process):
Long before the terror attacks of September 11, the Committee for Better Transit and IRUM proposed a surface light rail loop in Lower Manhattan to link the tourist attractions and ferry terminals on the periphery of the World Financial District. (An updated version of this proposal, which was the cover article in the May/June 1995 New York Streetcar News, is in process.] A key element of this proposal is an auto-free Fulton Street with a light rail line connecting the South Street Seaport with the redevelopment at the World Trade Center site. The line would use an auto-free Water Street and a right of way along West Street to complete the loop. This proposal is described further in IRUM's May 23, 2002 proposal for rebuilding Lower Manhattan.

Reactivating the Rockaway Beach Line
Please stay tuned while we organize!

View from the A train of the southernmost part of the LIRR Rockaway Beach line trackbed. April 2013. At right: the southern end of the Rockaway Beach Line,
awaiting restoration. April 2013, photo by Wayne Fields.

Discussion of ongoing campaign to restore the priceless rail right-of-way -- the "Rockaway Cut-off" - that runs north-south through central Queens -- right now a weed-strewn, dis-used gateway to Kennedy Airport and the Rockaway Peninsula, easily visible from the A train just north of the Howard Beach station (see photo). Plans are to clean it, install tracks, deck it over and get airport trains rolling, allowing NYC join the more advanced cities in the world which boast of quick, easy and affordable rail access to their airports.

Also on the table is reactivation of the LIRR Rockaway Beach Cutoff at Whitepot Junction for combined airport/regular passenger service from JFK Airport, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill, Forest Hills and the Rockaways to Midtown, Manhattan; a LIRR Super-Subway from JFK Airport to Lower Manhattan via the unused LIRR Rockaway Beach right-of-way, and an Atlantic Branch connection for combined Airport and regular passenger service; Penn Station Metro-Hub Plan.

For further information contact:

George Haikalis - RRWG - Chairperson (212) 475-3394
Carl Perrera - Rockaway Subcommittee Chairperson
(516) 532-1458 (Note new number); email

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