NEW YORK | Gateway Project (Hudson Rail Tunnel)

Amtrak has replaced the whole catenary infrastructure in a few places recently, most notably the “New Jersey raceway”.


It seems Amtrak has not yet replaced the catenary between New York Penn and Newark Penn. I believe the wires there date to the Alexander Cassatt days, which is part of the reason Amtrak and NJ Transit will be unusable most of this summer.


There is some truly ancient caternary infrastructure along that portion of the NEC. Amtrak needs to upgrade that portion of the line to constant tension like between Trenton and New Brunswick as it seems to not be plagued with these issues. Its definitely a much shorter distance so it is definitely doable and will definitely help prevent the meltdown the system is currently facing in that area. I doubt the new caternary on the Portal Bridge will be constant tension given the fact it uses the same 70+ year old PRR-style pole design.


Do you mind briefly explaining the dif between constant tension and the alternative? Just curious

Amtrak: But hey we spent all this $ so you can recharge your laptop en route!

Constant-tension catenary uses weights to keep the wire from sagging excessively. The non-tensioned catenary does not have any tensioning, so you hear cases where the wires are sagging due to the climate such as the recent issues plaguing NJ Transit and Amtrak. This method is relatively new which is why it isn’t as widespread and is only really found on more recent installations of catenary.
Constant tension (note the weights):

As you can see, non-tensioned wire is simply attached to the support structure without any sort of tension. It will sag in the heat as no weights are providing the tension to keep things rigid.

Things get really bad (such as getting pulled down) when the pantographs that are used to collect the electricity to power trains hit a sagged wire, especially at track speed.


Thank you for explaining that! Definitely makes sense.


I snapped a couple of pics from the train while passing by this yesterday.


I’m glad that by some miracle you got a train that was operating!

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Thanks folkses. learned a lot ( couple rabbit holes along the way )

What they will do to the old bridge once they completed the new bridge?
Will continue to be used or will be demolished?


Eventually, a 2nd copy of the new bridge will be built, known as the Portal South Bridge.

As for the bridge construction progress, a lot has been done since the last update.

A large number of the catenary poles have been installed and they are close to reaching the end of the span.

Over the water, the piers are being cast, with one having the top half where the archest rest starting to be moulded and the presence of round rebar indicates that the 2nd in-water pier is going to be cast. Once both are fully casted, the delivery of the arches will likely commence.

On the northernmost side of the bridge towards the City, not much is happening with the actual span, however, the retaining wall that holds the embankment where the tracks will merge with the existing NEC is well underway in construction and piers that will hold a short span over the former Erie trackage are being cast.

Tonelle Avenue construction is also in full force, with the excavation of the area where the first half of the bridge is nearing ground level, so hopefully once the digging reaches ground level and the site is cleared, the casting of bridge supports will then begin.

As for the actual arched spans, it seems the 2nd one was completed or nearing an advanced stage of completion. Hopefully, in the coming months, we will see the final arch being built.

A railfan recorded a video out the window of a train showing the progress on the bridge so we get a nice update from that POV as well. On one of the piers, fenders have been installed which serve to protect the bridge supports from collisions. The NYC-bound side’s fenders await installation.


Its worth pointing out this quote:

Once the deal got the green light Monday, federal officials believe it passes the “point of no return” and cannot be reversed.

This is excellent news. This funding hopefully ensures the project can proceed without risk of sabotage by a certain presidential candidate if they get re-elected.


I’m sure he will try his hardest. Supreme court has just given him incredible leeway. Batten down the hatches.