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2022 Wrap-Up Letter from Empire State Passengers Association's Steve Strauss

Jan 31, 2023

The Empire State Passengers Association (ESPA) is proud of the expansion of passenger rail service achieved this past year while Amtrak continues to recover from earlier Covid-relayed layoffs and retirements. I wanted to provide a yearend wrapup of 2022 activities and accomplishments, as we value the support of our members and the intersection of transportation and tourism.

In June service on the Maple Leaf was restored to Toronto from its interim Niagara Falls terminus. Shortly thereafter Amtrak and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts initiated a summer weekend service to Pittsfield, MA from New York City via the extension of an existing NYC to Albany train. In December Amtrak and NYS restored two additional roundtrips in the Hudson Valley leaving us short only an early a.m. southbound train from Albany and a late-evening return from NY Penn to have the full pre-Covid schedule back. Also still missing is the pre-Covid Sunday schedule from Niagara Falls that includes Train 288, a mid-afternoon departure to NYC providing later Sunday evening service from Albany and the Hudson Valley into New York City.

There were additional passenger rail accomplishments in 2022 as well. In January the Governor publicly committed to advancing the replacement of the critical 1902 rail bridge in Albany that connects central and western New York with the Hudson Valley and NYC. She released artist renderings of the new lift-bridge design that includes a pedestrian and bicycle lane. In the fall the NYS Department of Transportation submitted applications for federal funding assistance for the Livingston Ave. Bridge and other state of good repair projects in the Hudson Valley and Capital Region. Both NYS DOT and ESPA submitted Expressions of Interest for new and existing rail corridors in the Federal Railroad Administration’s new Corridor Identification and Development program. ESPA is working with allies in western New York to encourage the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council to take a more active role in intercity passenger rail planning opportunities from the federal Infrastructure bill.

ESPA is also preparing for an active legislative session in Albany in 2023 along with the likely release, after so many years of delay, of the Empire Corridor Environmental Impact Statement. The EIS release will initiate
renewed discussion of how NYS will implement a multi-decade intercity passenger rail improvement program across the state. ESPA will be at the table and we hope other NYSTIA members will join us!

Join us at our Annual Meeting in Schenectady on Saturday, March 11th at the Doubletree Schenectady. We are putting together an informative agenda of speakers on passenger rail concerns across the state. To register, please contact us at:

Thanks again for your support and don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or suggestions.


Steve Strauss
Executive Director