Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

Date: Wednesday, June 4, 1999

Release #209-99

Contact: Sunny Mindel/Curt Ritter (212) 788-2958
Bernadette O'Leary 212/312-3523


Latest Achievement in City's Efforts to Improve Rail Freight Access

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani announced today that the City has reached an agreement for the New York & Atlantic Railway (NY&A) to re-open and operate the 65th Street Rail Yard in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. NY&A plans to operate the yard as an intermodal truck-to-rail transfer facility which will help to expand its customer base -- shippers of building supplies, construction materials, and plastic products.

"This agreement is a major step in increasing the availability of rail service to local and regional shippers," said Mayor Giuliani. "As a result of the June 1st takeover of Conrail operations by CSX Transportation and the Norfolk Southern Railway, New York City expects rail freight movement into the City to grow significantly. Re-opening the 65th Street Rail Yard will do much to stimulate and support this new rail traffic and take trucks off our congested roadways."

The 65th Street Rail Yard, dormant for more than 20 years, has been entirely renovated by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC). It is the Western terminus of the Bay Ridge Line, a freight-only rail line owned by the Long Island Rail Road and operated by NY&A. The Bay Ridge Line links the Brooklyn waterfront with other rail lines at Fresh Pond Junction in Queens.

"We believe the use of the 65th Street Rail Yard will play a key role in giving rail freight a competitive advantage over trucking," said Bruce A. Lieberman, Chairman of NY&A. "And our relationships with connecting railroads will be an important factor in converting long distance truck traffic back to rail."

The agreement for reactivating the 65th Street Rail Yard coincides with another significant milestone for the rail freight industry. Under a decision reached by the Federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) last year and effective June 1, 1999, the assets and operations of Conrail will be divided between CSX and Norfolk Southern.

During the STB's proceedings on the Conrail acquisition, EDC, on behalf of the City and New York State together successfully petitioned for competitive rail access east of the Hudson River. The STB's decision to grant the petition was hailed as a victory for companies and consumers alike throughout New York City.

The STB granted CSX the authority to operate freight service along the rail line on the east bank of the Hudson, provided that CSX reach agreement with the Canadian Pacific Railway for trackage rights along the route. The STB recently issued another decision which set competitive rate terms for freight service between Albany and New York City.

"For more than two decades, the Conrail monopoly did not provide New York with the level of reliability and competitive service necessary to encourage shippers to move cargo from truck to rail," said Deputy Mayor Randy Levine. "Currently, only three percent of the freight bound for east of the Hudson River moves by rail. These successes are in keeping with Mayor Giuliani's consistent support of efforts to provide competitive rail access into New York City."

Along with the 65th Street Rail Yard agreement and the proceedings related to the acquisition of Conrail, Norfolk Southern (NS) has entered into an operating agreement with the New York Cross Harbor Railroad (NYCH) for NS to use NYCH's cross harbor rail float system between the Greenville Rail Yard in Jersey City and Bush Terminal in Brooklyn. This agreement will further enhance competition and result in a significant increase in rail freight movement in the region.

EDC Acting President Michael Carey said, "These developments bode well for our economic growth. They promote competition, and they do much to help to maintain our environment and reduce wear and tear on our roadways. They also demonstrate how attractive New York City markets are to major shippers."

EDC is also proceeding with the Cross Harbor Freight Movement Study, in response to Mayor Giuliani's advocacy of a rail freight tunnel to serve the needs of consumers and businesses in New York City and Long Island.

This two-year, federally funded Major Investment Study (MIS) seeks to address shortcomings in the region's transportation network for the efficient movement of goods across New York Harbor. In particular, the MIS is designed to address the City's over-dependence on trucks for the movement of freight. The study, now at its midpoint, has already identified several viable options for the rail freight tunnel.

A series of public meetings will be held over the next month to present the MIS's preliminary findings.

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