Amtrak recently took a big leap forward with the opening of its new home in New York City, Moynihan Station, located in the former James A. Farley, across from Penn Station. The spectacular space, says Charles Harris, director of marketing and revenue, is only part of the railroad’s invention.

The $1.6 billion project transformed the facility into a world-class, state-of-the-art transportation hub, an idea first floated by the late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan more than a quarter century ago. The hall, which also houses the Long Island Railroad, includes a new first-class metropolitan lounge, which Harris says is the equivalent of an airline’s first-class lounge, as well as numerous restaurants and shops and extensive art facilities.


Metropolitan Lounge in Moynihan Railway Hall. (Photo via Amtrak)

The Capital Lounge is available to Acela First Class passengers, long-haul First Class (sleeper) customers and members of the Amtrak Select and Select Executive frequent flyer programs. Renovations are also underway at salons in Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

It’s no surprise that Amtrak has been affected by the pandemic, especially on the busy Northeast Corridor, but Harris said traffic is now at 35 percent of normal and he thinks growth will be steady at this point. In the past year, sleeping cars have regained popularity because of their privacy. So Amtrak deployed sleeping cars for the first time on the Northeast Corridor, one per day in each direction.

Travelers are definitely interested in private rooms, Harris said, adding that on long trips they can even have food delivered to their rooms. And even seated cars have more space and airflow than planes.

Moynihan also has a conference centre which can be hired out to businesses. They can go to town and meet, Harris said, without leaving the station.

There’s more good news for Amtrak. Although the airline has had to reduce most of its popular long-haul routes to three times a week, it will resume daily service in May. According to Harris, the market is also sending very strong signals in terms of future bookings, as people want to explore the country at a time when international travel seems limited for the foreseeable future.

Even more good news, according to Harris, is the arrival of the Viewliner II wagons, the first revamped sleeper wagons in more than 25 years. Amenities include WiFi, lots of electrical outlets, and new bathrooms. He added that Amtrak is not leaving the rest of its fleet untouched, as car train service is being modernized, Amfleet II coaches on east coast lines have been fully modernized, and there is a multi-year program to modernize the interiors of the Superliner and Viewliner I.

Amtrak has a relationship with the travel agency Amtrak Vacations, which works closely with travel consultants to provide commissions and sales support. Amtrak itself has agreements with the Travel Leaders Network and AAA that allow affiliated agents to earn commissions on long-distance and Downeaster trains in New England.

The line is available through various third-party distribution platforms in partnership with business travel agencies. All partners have access to the same content, but some promotions are exclusive to Amtrak-owned stations.

Amtrak works with all travel advisors to develop marketing materials and provides access to official photos through an online database.

The Moynihan Rail Hall, Mr Harris concluded, will become a showcase for the country’s railways. Other stations – including those in Chicago and Baltimore – are being renovated and redeveloped. In addition, the railroad has been fortunate this year to receive all the funds requested by Congress that would help us with local and state transportation projects, he said.

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