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East River Tunnels
Carries Amtrak Northeast Corridor and Long Island Rail Road
Crosses East River
Locale Manhattan and Queens in New York City
Maintained by Amtrak
Total length 3,949 feet (1,204 m)[1]
Width 23 feet (7.0 m)[1]
Opened September 8, 1910[1]

The East River Tunnels are 4 single-track railroad tunnels that extend from the eastern end of Pennsylvania Station under 32nd and 33rd Streets in Manhattan and cross the East River to Long Island City in Queens. The tracks carry Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak trains travelling to and from Penn Station and points to the north and east. The tracks also carry New Jersey Transit trains deadheading to Sunnyside Yard. They are part of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor; trains travelling between New York City and Boston, among other destinations, use the tunnels on their way to and from the Hell Gate Bridge.

1907 exposition display showing cross-section of East River railroad tunnel

The tunnels were built in the first decade of the 20th century as part of the Pennsylvania Tunnel and Terminal Railroad, providing a connection between the Pennsylvania Railroad's train station in New York City, Pennsylvania Station, and the railroad's Sunnyside Yard. At the time of construction, the Long Island Rail Road was a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and the tunnels allowed the Long Island Rail Road its first (and to date only) direct access to Manhattan.

Construction began in 1904.[2]:111 All four tunnels were built simultaneously, with borings undertaken at both ends.[2]:112 The tunnels opened, along with Pennsylvania Station, in 1910. Before the tunnels were opened, Long Island Rail Road trains terminated in Long Island City and passengers had to take ferries across the East River to reach Manhattan.

The East River Tunnels are currently owned by Amtrak and are electrified by both third rail and overhead catenary. Diesel-powered locomotives are banned from running in the tunnels under normal operation because of ventilation concerns. For this reason, the Long Island Rail Road utilizes DM30AC dual-mode locomotives to allow a few trains on non-electrified lines to provide direct service to and from Penn Station during rush hours.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Guide to Civil Engineering Projects In and Around New York City (2nd ed.). Metropolitan Section, American Society of Civil Engineers. 2009. p. 58.  
  2. ^ a b Gilbert, Gilbert H.; Wightman, Lucius I.; Saunders, William L. (1912). "The East River Tunnels of the Pennsylvania Railroad". The Subways and Tunnels of New York: Methods and Costs, with an Appendix on Tunneling Machinery and Methods and Tables of Engineering Data. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved 2009-10-11.  



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