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Ask a New Yorker about their opinion regarding trains and you will likely get an earful about the sputtering subway system or the less-than-reliable commuter rail lines that stretch into the suburbs.
But few New Yorkers have ever glimpsed, or even heard of, the New York & Atlantic Railway, a freight train that would seem more familiar rumbling across the Great Plains, not chugging through crowded city neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn, bearing cars loaded with food, scrap metal, construction materials and even beer.
Now the 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.
The railway will also handle more freight because another little-known piece of the region’s transportation network will soon be expanded: a service that floats rail cars from New Jersey across New York Harbor by barge to Brooklyn, where they connect with New York and Atlantic’s line.
“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.
This article first appeared on www.nytimes.com
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