Rail Passengers Celebrate Grand Central Terminal On Its Centennial


January 29, 2013

The National Association of Railroad Passengers salutes Grand Central Terminal on its centennial, and thanks the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York State (MTA) for the work it has done to restore and maintain this treasured icon and transportation centerpiece. The Association stands ready to work with the MTA and other transportation stakeholders to assure that Grand Central continues to serve the traveling public for another hundred-plus years as a hub for the city, region and nation.

Grand Central Terminal will remain a hub for regional travel and commerce far into the future.  However, returning the landmark rail terminal to its former status as a facility that served both intercity and regional train passengers would improve mobility to the entire Northeast megaregion. Under the East Side Access project, the MTA is constructing new tunnels under the East River that will allowLong Island Rail Road trains—which currently only serveManhattan via Penn Station—to serve Grand Central starting in 2019. This will make for a much quicker commute for Long Islanders who work and do business onManhattan’sEast Side.

There is also a longer-term plan which envisions a much-needed direct rail connection between Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station; however, at present it lacks funding and only preliminary engineering work has been done.  Such an intercity connection would allow Amtrak intercity trains betweenBoston,Washington, and intermediate points to serve either or both stations, and transform Grand Central from a terminal that can serve only lines going north and eastward into a through station. Already the nation’s least car-dependent citizens, Manhattanites in all parts of the borough would have even more choices for trips out of town, as well as accessing the region's three airports. This one relatively short tunnel connection—though it would be a challenging and costly project—would do more to strengthen the economy of the region, and by extension the nation, than spending the same amount on road and bridge improvements or adding to an airspace that is already at or above capacity.

New York City’s century-old Grand Central Terminal remains a world class iconic structure, reflecting an era where rail travel predominated, and instantly recognizable. Serving 750,000 daily commuter train riders, plus thousands of others who come just to shop, dine and sightsee, Grand Central’s name is synonymous with “bustling.” Owing its continued existence to a foresighted group of preservationists, spearheaded by Jacqueline Kennedy, who saved it from the wrecking ball in the mid-1960s—and spurred on by unfortunate and untimely loss of the original palatial Pennsylvania Station—Grand Central continues to serve as a shining example of the lynchpin role that train stations play in their communities. Even in the Big Apple, and in an era when the passenger train’s role in people’s lives isn’t nearly as prominent as it was 100 years ago when the noble façade was erected, Grand Central remains a point of pride for New York and for the nation.

About the National Association of Railroad Passengers

NARP is the only national organization speaking for the users of passenger trains and rail transit. We have worked since 1967 to expand the quality and quantity of passenger rail in theU.S.Our mission is to work towards a modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want. Our work is supported by over 22,000 individual members.