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April 07, 2019   |   The New York Times


The Pizza-and-Beer Train: New York City’s Hidden Railroad

New York's little-known railroad’s profile is about to get much bigger. City officials have been working to reduce the inundation of trucks on New York’s streets. The trucks carry about 90 percent of the city’s freight, more than most major American cities, contributing to the city’s worsening gridlock and pouring greenhouse gases into the air.

By contrast, the city’s rail lines transport just 2 percent of New York’s cargo. 

To change that, city officials are investing tens of millions of dollars to upgrade the freight train’s corridors, including modernizing several rail depots. 

“That rail line has an important but unsung job of diverting truck traffic, and it is key to the future of freight transport for New York City,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat who has long advocated rail freight, including supporting building a tunnel under New York Harbor connecting New Jersey to Brooklyn.

The New York & Atlantic line now is in the surprising position of having its big diesel locomotives — and the sooty, graffiti-strewn boxcars they haul — pegged as a progressive, environmental choice for New York.

“Anything with rail freight in New York City has to come through us,” said James Bonner, the railway’s president. “We’re the conduit to a lot of growth. It all kind of hinges here.”


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