Secaucus Junction (known as Secaucus Transfer during planning stages and signed simply as Secaucus) is a major commuter rail hub in Secaucus, New Jersey. It serves trains from all lines operated by NJ Transit Rail Operations except the Princeton Branch and Atlantic City Line.
The $450 million, 321,000-square-foot (29,800 m2) station opened on December 15, 2003 and was dedicated as the Frank R. Lautenberg Rail Station at Secaucus Junction. U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, who died in 2013, was a transit advocate who had worked to allocate federal funds for the project.
The station is situated on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) between New York Penn Station and Newark Penn Station where it intersects with the Main Line, allowing passengers to transfer between trains to and from Hoboken Terminal with those of the NEC on the upper level. It is not served by Amtrak trains which run through the station on the upper level. In March 2016, a new bus station with 14 bus berths opened; it is used primarily for intermodal connections but was also conceived to add redundancy to the transportation network.
Secaucus Junction was specifically built as a transfer point to enable passengers to transfer between trains on nine of NJ Transit's commuter rail lines. Before Secaucus Junction was built, passengers on lines bound for Hoboken Terminal were required to use PATH trains or ferries to reach Manhattan in New York City. Conversely, commuters whose trains terminated at New York Penn Station had to transfer to PATH at Newark Penn Station to reach Hoboken.
NJ Transit's rail operations are split between two divisions, a legacy of their roots in separate railroads. The Hoboken Division had once been part of the Erie Lackawanna Railway and their predecessors, while most of the Newark Division lines had once been part of the Pennsylvania Railroad. They had never been integrated, even when Conrail ran both networks under contract to the New Jersey Department of Transportation from 1976 until handing them to NJ Transit in 1983.
The two-track Northeast Corridor mainline embankment was expanded to three tracks for a mile on each side of the station and to four tracks through the station itself, allowing Amtrak and nonstop NJT trains to pass stopped trains. The two-track Bergen County Line was re-aligned southwestward to join the two-track Main Line to pass through the station on the four-track lower level. The construction required the bodies from the Hudson County Burial Grounds to be disinterred and moved to another cemetery.
The station was built with little public parking, as NJT believed few passenger trips would originate at the transfer point. In 2005, Exit 15X on the adjacent New Jersey Turnpike opened to provide easier access to the station from the surrounding area. Two years later, 15X was the least-used interchange on the turnpike, due in part to the lack of parking at the station. On June 1, 2009, Edison Parkfast, a private company, opened the first parking lot near the station, with space for 1,094 cars. Bicycle parking is also available.
On July 26, 2009, NJ Transit began shuttle service to the Meadowlands station at the Meadowlands Sports Complex, with the Secaucus Junction being a transfer point for passengers from New York Penn and other stations. From 2009 to 2014, Secaucus Junction served trains coming from Metro-North's New Haven Line for connecting trains for New York Giants and New York Jets football games at the Meadowlands with 1:00 p.m. kickoffs on Sundays.
On June 5, 2013, a special Amtrak train stopped at the station to carry the coffin of Lautenberg to Washington, D.C. to his burial. On February 2, 2014, a limited number of Amtrak trains made stops at Secaucus for passengers going to Super Bowl XLVIII. Local officials have indicated a desire to have regular Amtrak service stop at Secaucus Junction after American Dream Meadowlands opens in October 2019.
Despite its name, Secaucus Junction is not a true junction, in which trains can be switched between lines; there is no rail connection between the upper and lower levels. The station has two platform levels connected by a third level on top. Such a loop, however, is proposed as part of the Gateway Project to improve commuter access to Manhattan.
On November 16, 2010, The New York Times reported that Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration was working on a plan to bring the 7 and <7> trains of the New York City Subway under the Hudson River to Secaucus Junction. An extension of that service, from its then-terminus at Times Square – 42nd Street to a new terminus at Eleventh Avenue and 34th Street, has already been constructed.
If built, the extension would take the New York City Subway outside the city's and the state' borders and under the Hudson River for the first time. The plan would alleviate pressure on the NJ Transit/Amtrak route under the Hudson River, after the cancellation of the Access to the Region's Core tunnel project by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in October 2010. It would offer a direct route to Grand Central Terminal on the east side of Manhattan, while connecting with most other subway routes. New York City spent $250,000 for a consultant to conduct feasibility studies for the project. However, no design work commenced nor were financing arrangements made. On October 26, 2011, New York City Mayor Bloomberg reiterated his support for the project, while New Jersey Governor Chris Christie also expressed general concurrence. In April 2013, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority rejected the proposed extension, citing lack of funding. However, it was reconsidered again in 2018.
The Gateway Project, a series of infrastructure improvements along the NEC between Newark Penn Station and New York Penn Station, includes a proposal to build the so-called Secaucus Loop or Bergen Loop, by constructing additional trackage between the two levels of Secaucus Junction that would connect the Main Line and the NEC, thus creating a true junction station. As part of the second phase of the Gateway Project, the loop is projected to be constructed between 2024 and 2030.
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