Metro-North Railroad provides services in the lower Hudson Valley and Western Connecticut.
|Owner||Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)|
|Locale||Southeastern New York; Southwestern Connecticut|
|Transit type||Commuter rail|
|Number of lines||5|
|Number of stations||124|
|Daily ridership||298,300 (2017)|
|Annual ridership||87,083,000 (2017)|
|Chief executive||Catherine Rinaldi|
|Headquarters||420 Lexington Avenue|
New York, NY 10170
|Operator(s)||Metropolitan Transportation Authority|
NJ Transit (west-of-Hudson)
|Character||At-grade, elevated, and underground|
|System length||787 miles (1,267 km) (385 miles (620 km), routes)|
|Electrification||750 V DC third rail|
12.5 kV AC overhead lines
Metro-North Railroad (reporting mark MNCR, Metro-North Commuter Railroad), trading as MTA Metro-North, is a suburban commuter rail service run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), a public authority of the U.S. state of New York and under contract with the Connecticut Department of Transportation. Metro-North runs service between New York City and its northern suburbs in New York and Connecticut, including Port Jervis, Spring Valley, Poughkeepsie, Yonkers, New Rochelle, White Plains, Southeast and Wassaic in New York and Stamford, New Canaan, Danbury, Waterbury, and New Haven in Connecticut. Metro-North also provides local rail service within the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx.
Metro-North is the descendant of commuter rail services dating back as early as 1832. By 1969, they had all been acquired by Penn Central. MTA acquired all three lines by 1972, but Penn Central continued to operate them under contract. Service was transferred to Conrail in 1976, when it absorbed most of Penn Central's railroad functions after Penn Central's bankruptcy. The system took its current form in 1983, when MTA took over Conrail's commuter operations in the northern portion of the New York metropolitan area and merged them into Metro-North.
There are 124 stations on Metro-North Railroad's five active lines (plus the Meadowlands Rail Line), which operate on more than 787 miles (1,267 km) of track, with the passenger railroad system totaling 385 miles (620 km) of route. With an average weekday ridership of 298,300 in 2017, it is the third busiest commuter railroad in North America in terms of annual ridership, behind the Long Island Rail Road and NJ Transit. As of 2018 , Metro-North's budgetary burden for expenditures was $1.3 billion, which it supports through the collection of taxes and fees.
The MTA has jurisdiction, through Metro-North, over railroad lines on the western and eastern portions of the Hudson River in New York. Service on the western side of the Hudson is operated by NJ Transit under contract with the MTA.
Three lines provide passenger service on the east side of the Hudson River to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan: the Hudson, Harlem, and New Haven Lines. The Beacon Line is a freight line owned by Metro-North but is not in service.
The Hudson and Harlem Lines terminate in Poughkeepsie and Wassaic, New York, respectively.
The New Haven Line is operated through a partnership between Metro-North and the State of Connecticut. The Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) owns the tracks and stations within Connecticut, and finances and performs capital improvements. MTA owns the tracks and stations and handles capital improvements within New York State. MTA performs routine maintenance and provides police services for the entire line, its branches and stations. New cars and locomotives are typically purchased in a joint agreement between MTA and ConnDOT, with the agencies paying for 33.3% and 66.7% of costs respectively. ConnDOT pays more because most of the line is in Connecticut. The New Haven Line has three branches in Connecticut: the New Canaan Branch, Danbury Branch and Waterbury Branch. At New Haven, ConnDOT runs two connecting services, the Shore Line East connecting service continues east to New London, and the Hartford Line service continues north to Hartford, and Springfield, Massachusetts.
Amtrak operates inter-city rail service along the New Haven and Hudson Lines. The New Haven Line is part of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. Amtrak's Northeast Regional runs from New Rochelle to New Haven, while Stamford, Bridgeport and New Haven are also served by the high-speed Acela Express. At New Haven, the New Haven Line connects to the Amtrak New Haven-Springfield Line. The Hudson Line is part of the Empire Corridor, and Yonkers, Croton-on-Hudson, and Poughkeepsie stations are all served by Amtrak as well as Metro-North.
Freight trains run on Metro-North. The Hudson Line connects with the Oak Point Link and is the main route for freight to and from the Bronx and Long Island. Freight railroads CSX, CP Rail, P&W, and Housatonic Railroad have trackage rights on sections of the system. See Rail freight transportation in New York City and Long Island
Metro-North provides service west of the Hudson River on trains from Hoboken Terminal, New Jersey, jointly run with NJ Transit under contract. There are two branches: the Port Jervis Line and the Pascack Valley Line. The Port Jervis Line is accessed from two NJ Transit lines, the Main Line and the Bergen County Line.
The Port Jervis Line terminates in Port Jervis, New York, and the Pascack Valley line in Spring Valley, New York, in Orange and Rockland Counties, respectively. Trackage on the Port Jervis Line north of the Suffern Yard is leased from the Norfolk Southern Railway by the MTA, but NJ Transit owns all of the Pascack Valley Line, including the portion in Rockland County, New York.
Most stops for the Port Jervis and Pascack Valley Lines are in New Jersey, so NJ Transit provides most of the rolling stock and all the staff; Metro-North supplies some equipment. Metro-North equipment has been used on other NJ Transit lines on the Hoboken division.
All stations west of the Hudson River in New York are owned and operated by Metro-North, except Suffern, which is owned and operated by NJ Transit.
Most of the trackage east of the Hudson River and in New York State was under the control of the New York Central Railroad (NYC). The NYC initially operated three commuter lines, two of which ran into Grand Central Depot (now Grand Central Terminal). Metro-North's Harlem Line was initially a combination of trackage from the New York and Harlem Railroad and the Boston and Albany Railroad, running from Manhattan to Chatham, New York in Columbia County. At Chatham, passengers could transfer to long-distance trains on the Boston and Albany to Albany, Boston, Vermont, and Canada. On April 1, 1873, the New York and Harlem Railroad was leased by Cornelius Vanderbilt, who added the railroad to his complex empire of railroads, which were run by the NYC. Grand Central Depot, built in 1871, served as the southern terminus of NYC's Harlem and Hudson Divisions; it would be replaced by Grand Central Station in 1900, and by Grand Central Terminal in 1913. The Boston and Albany came under the ownership of NYC in 1914.
NYC's four-track Water Level Route paralleled the Hudson River, Erie Canal, and Great Lakes on a route from New York to Chicago via Albany. It was fast and popular due to the lack of any significant grades. The section between Grand Central and Peekskill, New York, the northernmost station in Westchester County, became known as the NYC's Hudson Division, with frequent commuter service in and out of Manhattan. Stations to the north of Peekskill, such as Poughkeepsie, were considered to be long-distance services. The other major commuter line was the Putnam Division running from 155th Street in upper Manhattan (later from Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx) to Brewster, New York. Passengers would transfer to the IRT Ninth Avenue Line for midtown and lower Manhattan.
From the mid-19th century until 1969, the New Haven Line, including the New Canaan, Danbury, and Waterbury branches, was owned by the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad (NYNH&H). These branches were started in the 1830s with horse-drawn cars, later replaced by steam engines, on a route that connected Lower Manhattan to Harlem. Additional lines started in the mid-19th century included the New York and New Haven Railroad and the Hartford and New Haven Railroad, which provided routes to Hartford, Springfield, Massachusetts, and eventually Boston. The two roads merged in 1872 to become the NYNH&H, growing into the largest passenger and commuter carrier in New England. In the early 20th century, the NYNH&H came under the control of J.P. Morgan. Morgan's bankroll allowed the NYNH&H to modernize by upgrading steam power with both electric (along the New Haven Line) and diesel power (branches and lines to eastern and northern New England). The NYNH&H saw much profitability throughout the 1910s and 1920s until the Great Depression of the 1930s forced it into bankruptcy.
Commuter services west of the Hudson River, today's Port Jervis and Pascack Valley lines, were initially part of the Erie Railroad. The Port Jervis Line, built in the 1850s and 1860s, was originally part of the Erie's mainline from Jersey City to Buffalo, New York. The Pascack Valley Line was built by the New Jersey and New York Railroad, which became a subsidiary of the Erie. Trains that service Port Jervis formerly continued to Binghamton and Buffalo, New York (today used only by freight trains), while Pascack Valley service continued to Haverstraw, New York. In 1956, the Erie Railroad began coordinated service with rival Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad, and in 1960 they formed the Erie Lackawanna. Trains were rerouted to the Lackawanna's Hoboken Terminal in 1956-1958.
Passenger rail in the United States began to falter after World War II. Commuter services historically had always been unprofitable, and were usually subsidized by long-distance passenger and freight services. As these profits disappeared, commuter services usually were the first to be affected. Many railroads began to gradually discontinue their commuter lines after the war. By 1958, the NYC had already suspended service on its Putnam Division, while the newly formed Erie Lackawanna, in an effort to make a successful merger, began to prune some of its commuter services. Most New Yorkers still chose the train as their primary means of commuting, making many of the other lines heavily patronized. Thus the NYC, the NYNH&H, and the Erie Lackawanna had to maintain service on these lines. Mergers between railroads were seen as a way to curtail these issues by combining capital and services and creating efficiencies.
In February 1965, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller and Connecticut Governor John N. Dempsey jointly suggested that operations of the New Haven Line, the New Haven Railroad's struggling commuter rail operation, be transferred to the New York Central Railroad as part of a plan to prevent the New Haven Railroad from going bankrupt. If the operational merger occurred, the proposed Metropolitan Commuter Transit Authority (MCTA; now Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or MTA) and the existing Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) would contract with New York Central to operate the New Haven Line to Grand Central Terminal. Due to growing debts, the railroad would have to cease operating passenger trains on the New Haven Line if nothing was done.:229 A joint report from both agencies, released in September of that year, recommended that the line be leased to New York Central for 99 years, with the MCTA and CTA acting as agents for both states. In October, the MCTA found that the New Haven Line's stations and infrastructure were even more decrepit than those of the LIRR. The New Haven Railroad's trustees initially opposed New York Central's takeover of the New Haven Line, as they felt that the $140 million offer for the New Haven Line was too low. After some discussion, the trustees decided to continue operating the New Haven Line, but only until June 1967.
In 1968, following the Erie Lackawanna's example, the NYC and its rival the Pennsylvania Railroad formed Penn Central Transportation with the hope of revitalizing their fortunes. In 1969 the bankrupt NYNH&H was also combined into Penn Central by the Interstate Commerce Commission. However, this merger eventually failed, due to large financial costs, government regulations, corporate rivalries, and lack of a formal merger plan. In 1970 Penn Central declared bankruptcy, at the time the largest corporate bankruptcy ever declared. The same year, the MTA also entered into a long-term lease of Penn Central's Hudson, Harlem, and New Haven Lines. Penn Central continued to operate the now-subsidized lines under contract to the MTA. In April 1970, Rockefeller proposed that the state take over the Hudson and Harlem Lines, and the next month, he signed a bond issue that provided $44.4 million in funding to these lines.
The MTA and ConnDOT took over ownership of the New Haven Line in January 1971. In May 1972, the MTA also gained ownership of the Hudson and Harlem Lines. Penn Central continued to operate all three routes under contract. As part of its plan to modernize the commuter lines, the MTA ordered high-speed "Cosmopolitan" railcars for the New Haven Line as well as for the Hudson and Harlem Lines. After a series of delays and derailments in mid-1972, which involved Penn Central trains near Grand Central Terminal, Chairman Ronan expressed his disapproval of the way Penn Central was running its railroads. He said that the proportion of trains running on schedule had declined after Penn Central had inherited the Hudson, Harlem, and New Haven Lines in 1968.
In 1976, Congress awarded the MTA "temporary" funding so the LIRR and Penn Central commuter routes could be handed over to local private operators.:240 The bankrupt Penn Central's commuter routes were taken over by Conrail, an entity created by the federal government, the same year. Many of the other Northeastern railroads, including the Erie Lackawanna, followed Penn Central into bankruptcy, and so they had been merged into Conrail. However, the handover to private owners did not happen.:240
In March 1981, the administration of President Ronald Reagan suggested that struggling Conrail commuter operations across five states be transferred to state agencies. At the time, Conrail was being floated by the federal government as a private for-profit freight-only carrier. Even with state subsidies, the federal government did not want Conrail to take on the operating costs of the commuter lines, which it was relieved from by the Northeast Rail Service Act of 1981. Thus, it became essential that state-owned agencies both operate and subsidize their commuter services.
Over the next few years commuter lines under the control of Conrail were gradually taken over by state agencies such as the newly formed NJ Transit in New Jersey, the established SEPTA in southeastern Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in Boston.:240 In March 1982, the MTA announced it would take over the Harlem, Hudson, and New Haven Lines as long as there was no extra operating cost involved. The MTA and ConnDOT officially took control of the Harlem, Hudson and New Haven Lines on January 1, 1983 and merged them into the Metro-North Commuter Railroad.
Metro-North took over the former Erie Lackawanna services west of the Hudson and north of the New Jersey state line. Since those lines are physically connected to NJ Transit, operations were contracted to NJ Transit with Metro-North subsidizing the service and supplying equipment.
In preparation for the takeover, Metro-North was created as a division of the MTA, with Peter Stangl as president. Once under the MTA's control, the agency planned to phase in capital improvements over the following five years. As part of the transition, the MTA needed to negotiate new labor contracts with the 17 unions representing 5,000 Conrail employees who would become MTA employees and had to negotiate the transfer of most of Conrail's assets.
Much work was needed in reorganization, as significant business success would not appear for at least two decades, following the faltering railroad industry in the 1970s. Conrail and later Metro-North had decided to trim whatever services they felt were unnecessary. A significant portion of the old New York Central Central Harlem line between Millerton and Chatham, New York was abandoned by Conrail, leaving northeastern Dutchess and Columbia counties with no rail transportation. Most commuter lines were kept in service although they were in much need of repair.
On March 7, 1983, after labor negotiations between the MTA and the United Transportation Union (UTU) broke off, Metro-North employees went on strike. Commuters were left to carpool or use shuttle buses running to subway stations in the Bronx. Metro-North wanted to eliminate minimum staffing requirements and wanted the complete freedom to assign crews-a demand that the employees would not agree to. This was the first strike to shut down the New Haven, Harlem, and Hudson at the same time since January 1961. The UTU also went on strike against NJ Transit, which took over Conrail lines in New Jersey, and against SEPTA in Philadelphia. Two weeks into the strike, Metro-North President Peter Stangl estimated that it lost $80,000 a week due to the strike. The chairman of the MTA's finance committee, Stephen Berger, feared that Metro-North would lose 5% of its pre-strike ridership of 90,000-costing the railroad $1.3 million.
Richard Ravitch, the MTA Chairman, asked President Reagan to seek legislation to place the dispute under the law of New York State. Even though Metro-North was a state agency, the workers remained under federal law because Conrail was a federal agency. Reagan had turned down a request by Governor Mario Cuomo to intervene, but indicated that he would listen if a congressionally approve proposal was issued. The strike lasted six weeks, and ended on April 18 when the two sides agreed to binding arbitration.
The first major project undertaken by Metro-North was the extension of the third-rail electrification on the Harlem line from North White Plains to a new station at Brewster North (since renamed Southeast). This was completed in 1984. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, all wayside signals that did not protect switches and interlockings north of Grand Central were removed and replaced by modern cab signaling.
In October 1998, the New York State Department of Transportation announced that the Newburgh-Beacon Shuttle would be developed in conjunction with Metro-North, running from the Beacon station on the Hudson Line to the Newburgh park-and-ride on Route 17K.
Metro-North spent the better part of its early days updating and repairing its infrastructure. Stations, track, and rolling stock all needed to be repaired, renovated, or replaced. The railroad succeeded and by the mid 90s gained both respect and monetary success, according to the MTA's website. 2006 was the best year for the division, with a 97.8% rate of on-time trains, record ridership (76.9 million people), and a passenger satisfaction rating of 92%. In December 2017, the MTA announced that the Metro-North Railroad stations at White Plains, Harlem-125th Street, Crestwood, Port Chester, and Riverdale, would receive a complete overhaul as part of the Enhanced Station Initiative and would be entirely closed for up to 6 months. Updates would include cellular service, Wi-Fi, USB charging stations, interactive service advisories, and maps.
The Harlem and Hudson lines and the Park Avenue mainline to Grand Central were previously owned by Midtown TDR Ventures LLC, who bought them from the corporate successors to Penn Central. The MTA had a lease extending to the year 2274 and an option to buy starting in 2017. The MTA exercised their option to buy what was now Argent Ventures' rail assets on November 13, 2018. Under the terms of the deal, the MTA purchased Grand Central Terminal, as well as the Hudson Line from Grand Central to a point 2 miles (3.2 km) north of Poughkeepsie, and the Harlem Line from Grand Central to Dover Plains.
Most services running into Grand Central Terminal are electrically powered.
Diesel trains into Grand Central use General Electric P32AC-DM electro-diesel locomotives capable of switching to a pure electric mode. These locomotives have contact shoes compatible with Metro-North's under-running third rail power distribution system. Shoreliner series coaches are used in push-pull operation.
On the Hudson Line, local trains between Grand Central and Croton-Harmon are powered by third rail. Through trains to Poughkeepsie are diesel powered and do not require a change of locomotive at Croton-Harmon. The Harlem Line has third rail from Grand Central Terminal to Southeast and trains are powered by diesel north to Wassaic. At most times, passengers between Southeast and Wassaic must change at Southeast to a diesel train powered by Brookville BL20-GH locomotives. Electric service on the Hudson and Harlem lines uses M3 and M7 MU cars.
The New Haven Line is unique in that trains use both 750 V DC from a third rail and 12.5 kV AC from overhead catenary. The line from Grand Central Terminal to Pelham, uses third rail, while the section from Pelham, New York east to New Haven Union Station, which is 58 miles (93 km), uses catenary. Multi-system M8 railcars equipped with third rail shoes and pantographs are used for electric service on the line.
The New Canaan Branch also uses catenary. The Danbury Branch was electrified, but became a diesel line in 1961. The Waterbury Branch, the only east-of-Hudson Metro-North service which has no direct service to Grand Central, is diesel only.
Power is collected from the bottom of the third rail as opposed to the top, used by other third rail systems, including the Long Island Rail Road and New York City Subway. This system is known as the Wilgus-Sprague third rail, and the SEPTA Market-Frankford Line in Philadelphia and Metro-North are the only two systems in North America that use it. It allows the third rail to be completely insulated from above, thus decreasing the chances of a person being electrocuted by coming in contact with the rail. It also reduces the impact of icing in winter.
The Hudson, Harlem and New Haven lines and the New Canaan branch and all passenger rolling stock is equipped with cab signalling, which displays the appropriate block signal in the engineer's cab. All rolling stock is equipped with Automatic Train Control (ATC), which enforces the speed dictated by the cab signal by a penalty brake application should the engineer fail to obey it. There are no intermediate wayside signals between interlockings: operation is solely by cab signal. Wayside signals remain at interlockings. These are a special type of signal, a go or a stop signal. They do not convey information about traffic in the blocks ahead - the cab signal conveys block information.
Metro-North began upgrading its Operations Control Center in Grand Central Terminal in 2008. All control hardware was replaced and software upgrades were performed. The new OCC at Grand Central opened over the weekend of July 18, 2010.
Most of the rolling stock on west-of-Hudson lines consists of Metro-North owned and marked Comet V cars, although occasionally other NJ Transit (NJT) cars are used as the two railroads pool equipment. The trains are also usually handled by EMD GP40FH-2, GP40PH-2, F40PH-3C, Alstom PL42AC, or Bombardier ALP-45DP locomotives, although any Metro-North or NJ Transit diesel can show up. Metro-North owned and marked equipment operated by NJ Transit can also be seen on other NJ Transit lines.
Although Metro-North uses many abbreviations (MNCR, MNR, MN, etc.) the only official reporting marks registered and recognized on AEI scanner tags is 'MNCW'. Rolling stock owned by the Connecticut Department of Transportation bears the ConnDOT seal and either the New Haven ("NH") logo or the MTA logo and is identified using the reporting mark 'CTDX'.
Metro-North offers many different ticket types and prices depending on the frequency of travel and distance of the ride. While the fare policies of the east of Hudson and west of Hudson divisions are essentially the same, west of Hudson trains are operated by NJ Transit using its ticketing system.
Tickets may be bought from a ticket office at stations, ticket vending machines (TVMs), online through the "WebTicket" program or through apps for iOS and Android devices, or on the train. Monthly tickets may be bought through the MTA's "Mail&Ride" program where monthly passes are delivered by mail. There is a discount for buying tickets online and through Mail&Ride. A surcharge is added if a ticket is purchased on a train.
Ticket types available include One-way, Round-trip (two One-way tickets), 10-trip, Weekly (unlimited travel for one calendar week), Monthly (unlimited travel for one calendar month), and special student and disabled fare tickets. MetroCards are available on the reverse side of the Round-trip, Weekly, and Monthly tickets.
All tickets to/from Manhattan (Grand Central Terminal and Harlem-125th Street) are distinguished as being peak or off-peak. Peak fares, substantially higher than off-peak, apply on weekdays to travel to Manhattan on trains that arrive in Grand Central between 6 AM and 10 AM, and to travel from Manhattan on trains that leave Grand Central between 6 AM and 9 AM and 4 PM and 8 PM. Note that peak fares do not apply to travel to Manhattan on trains that arrive in Grand Central during the afternoon/evening rush hour. Off-peak fares are charged at all other times on weekdays, and off-peak fares are charged all day Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. Tickets for travel outside Manhattan, including tickets for travel to/from the Bronx, are called Intermediate tickets and are not subject to peak fares.
Metro-North stations are split between 14 zones in New York state. In Connecticut, the fare structure is more complex due to the many branches on the New Haven Line. Generally, these zones correspond to express stops on the lines and from "blocks" of service within the schedules.
On weekends, the railroad offers a special reduced-fare CityTicket, introduced in 2004, for passengers who travel within New York City. It can be used for trips on Hudson Line, Harlem Line, and New Haven Line trains in the Bronx and Manhattan.
In 2017, it was announced that the MetroCard fare payment system, used on New York City-area rapid transit and bus systems, would be phased out and replaced by OMNY, a contactless fare payment system. Fare payment would be made using Apple Pay, Google Wallet, debit/credit cards with near-field communication enabled, or radio-frequency identification cards. As part of the implementation of OMNY, the MTA also plans to use the system in the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad.
All West of Hudson stations are included in NJ Transit's fare structure, and a single ticket may be purchased for travel between any two stations on either system.
On May 23, 2009, Metro-North opened Yankees-East 153rd Street, a station with direct, game-day "Yankee Clipper" trains from all East of Hudson lines. Trains from the New Haven and Harlem lines gain access via the wye at Mott Haven Junction, the first time that scheduled revenue service has operated across this section of the wye.
Northward expansion of the Hudson Line has often met opposition from residents of communities including Hyde Park and Rhinecliff, even though the latter is home to Amtrak's Rhinecliff-Kingston, frequented by commuters from northern Dutchess and northern Ulster Counties. Supervisors of some towns north of Poughkeepsie began expressing interest in extending rail service in 2007.
Northward expansion took place most recently when it was extended from Dover Plains to Wassaic in 2000, requiring a costly rebuilding of tracks that had been abandoned years before. Going further north would require substantial investment to rebuild tracks, grade crossings, stations and other facilities that were removed long ago, and obtaining eminent domain for the train property used by the Harlem Valley Rail Trail. Expansion of either line would probably be limited to Dutchess County, as extending Metro-North into Columbia County, and thus to Chatham, would require changes to the MTA charter, and residents of that county would become subject to the MTA tax.
In 2014, Metro-North officials announced that they would be installing security cameras at all stations on the Harlem and New Haven Lines in order to address public safety concerns. These concerns arose from an incident on September 29, 2013, where the body of 17-year-old Mount Saint Michael Academy student Matthew Wallace was found on the tracks of the Wakefield station. Wallace, who was inebriated at the time, was killed when a northbound train struck him while he standing on the platform. Due to the lack of cameras at the station, footage of his death did not exist.
Discussions are underway to re-electrify the Danbury Branch with a concurrent expansion to New Milford. Connecticut officials and Metro-North also began construction of a new station in West Haven in November 2010. It was opened on August 18, 2013. ConnDOT is also moving forward on a study to increase freight service on the New Haven Line in an effort to reduce the number of trucks on the congested Connecticut Turnpike. Metro-North has upgraded most of the original 1907-1914 New Haven Railroad catenary system, a project begun in the early 1990s and scheduled to finish in mid-2018. The Danbury Branch is to receive $30 million for station upgrades along the line as well as implementation of a new signal system.
Plans to extend the Waterbury Branch northeast from Waterbury are under discussion. The extension would bring passenger rail service to central Connecticut, including the two largest cities in Connecticut without passenger rail service, Bristol and New Britain, and on to Hartford, where transfers to Amtrak would be possible.
In 2014, Metro-North officials announced that they would be installing security cameras at all stations on the Harlem and New Haven Lines in order to address public safety concerns.
In September 2009, Metro-North announced plans for a $1.7 million environmental impact statement on accessing Penn Station; although this possibility had been considered for several decades, it was never pursued because there was no space for any more trains in Penn Station. The project depends upon the completion of East Side Access, which will redirect some Long Island Rail Road trains from Penn Station to Grand Central upon its completion in December 2022. Weekday Metro-North service in the Bronx includes 253 daily trains with approximately 13,200 daily boardings. In addition, Metro-North also connects 5,000 Bronx residents to suburban jobs, making it the largest rail reverse-commute market in the United States. Governor Andrew Cuomo publicly and strongly supported the project in January 2014.
New Haven Line trains would enter the Hell Gate Line through New Rochelle. At Sunnyside Yards, they would enter Manhattan via the East River Tunnels. Stations would be built at Co-op City, Morris Park, Parkchester/Van Nest, and Hunts Point. Open houses were held at each of the four proposed stations in the Fall of 2012. Stations would be wheelchair-accessible, with bicycle parking and multi-modal transfer areas to train or bus. Cuomo endorsed the New Haven Line portion of the Penn Station Access project in his 2014 State of the State speech, stating that some Sandy recovery money could pay for the project's cost of over $1 billion. He did not mention the Hudson Line portion of the project.
Hudson Line trains would access Penn Station via a change at Spuyten Duyvil and would travel under Riverside Park via Amtrak's Empire Connection. Named Penn Station Access, the Hudson line plans call for new stations on West 125th Street in Harlem, Manhattan, and West 62nd Street in Riverside South, Manhattan.
On October 28, 2015, the MTA Board of Directors approved a 2015-2019 Capital Program which included $695 million in planned spending for the Penn Station Access project. Upon completion of the Environmental Review process, Metro-North will design and implement the track and structural work needed to operate on the Hell Gate Bridge and its approaches in the Bronx and Queens; communications and signals work; power improvements, including third rail, power substations, and catenary; construction of the four stations in the Bronx; and rolling stock specification development for the fleet needed to operate the service.
The MTA was working with the Tappan Zee Bridge Environmental Review on several options where the replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge would have included a rail line to connect the Pascack Valley Line in Rockland County to the Hudson Line in Westchester County. A proposed bus rapid transit system using the new bridge was shelved as too expensive, but the bridge was structurally built for expansion with BRT and/or commuter rail at a later date. This is now part of a dedicated bus lane system planned to go into service in late 2018.
Metro-North is considering extending Port Jervis Line service to Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, a move that could make a Tappan Zee Bridge rail line even more useful, as it would serve both commuters and travelers who choose to fly to and from Stewart, instead of the three major New York City-area airports.
The railroad has been featured in several films, including Hello Dolly!,The Ice Storm, U.S. Marshals, Another Earth,The Girl on the Train, Falling in Love, Michael Jackson's short film for Bad, and Steven Spielberg's 2005 remake of War of the Worlds. Rod Serling used the railroad as a setting for the "A Stop at Willoughby" episode of his TV series The Twilight Zone.