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New Amtrak Station Opens In Schenectady

In the continuing redevelopment of downtown Schenectady, the city today opened its new passenger train station.

Mayor Gary McCarthy stood under the bright lights and tall ceilings of Schenectady’s new downtown Amtrak station. The new Schenectady Station replaces a terminal built in 1979 that had few windows and was partially underground.

“It shows the record that we’re able to continue to build on here in this city,” said McCarthy. “Because this was not an easy project.”

A decade of planning went into the $23 million station. It’s located on the same stretch of road as the Rivers Casino and Mohawk Harbor, transforming a central corridor that was long surrounded by unused, contaminated land.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul marveled at the amount of development seen in the city over the last few years.

“I was in awe of the sense of ‘How did we let this land lay like this for all those decades?’ I mean a brownfield right on the magnificent canal there, the Mohawk River, it’s beautiful there. That is an asset that people just salivate over. You have that. You have to celebrate it. You have to bring people to live there and recreate there and to put a world-class casino as well as mixed-use development and housing. I think that is downright visionary,” said Hochul.

In addition to $19 million in state funding, the project was also supported by $3.6 million from the Federal Railroad Administration.

Congressman Paul Tonko, who worked to secure federal funding for the project, said he uses rail most of the time to travel from his Capital Region district to Washington D.C.

“It’s the most energy efficient form of travel. And if we’re to grow ridership, we need services like this: a modern, updated, greatly-scaled passenger station that really adds to the cityscape of Schenectady.”

In addition to the new building, a safety upgrade was made with the installation of positive train control. $155 million of federal funding was used to build a second track from Schenectady to Albany.

Senator Charles Schumer said in a statement that the improvements provide Schenectady passengers “the best and safest service in over half a century.”

Lt. Gov. Hochul said the new station will do more than alleviate headaches for local commuters. She said investments in transportation and the city’s amenities create a more welcoming community for college students who come to Schenectady. 

“These students don’t have to go anywhere else now. They’re going to want to stay here. And the beauty is there’s not just new housing here for them, and new amenities, and a new cool vibe. There’s also jobs. So the jobs are now coming back with tech and incubators, and that’s what’s so important: is to create this whole formula, this holistic approach to bringing back a community and the governor and I have been so proud.”

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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