Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin questioned the cost-effectiveness of the NJT proposal to build a deep-cavern terminal under 34th Street in Manhattan rather than bring new tunnels and tracks to the East Side. In his column published on Monday, December 21st, Doblin said, “The reality is that putting more people in the same part of Manhattan is just plain dumb.” Doblin criticized the proposed deep-cavern terminal because New York’s water tunnel lies between the proposed terminal and the East Side, making it impossible to extend the tracks to Grand Central Terminal. He said, “This should be a deal-breaker for the project as planned. It makes little sense to expend billions and billions of dollars for a less-than-perfect solution.” The Record is the first major media outlet to question the NJT plan.
An alliance of passenger rail advocates in the region has proposed and endorsed a plan to connect any proposed new rail tunnels and the tracks they contain to the existing Penn Station, rather than building the deep-cavern terminal proposed by New Jersey Transit. The plan, known as the “Penn Station First” plan, also calls for construction of new track to the Grand Central Terminal area on Manhattan’s East Side and for eventual through-running between New Jersey and Long Island or Westchester and Connecticut. According to the proposal, through-running would use train sets more efficiently than the current in-and-out operation, saving money and allowing more service. The New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers (NJ-ARP), the Empire State Passengers Association (ESPA,) and the Regional Rail Working Group (RRWG) have joined the Lackawanna Coalition in proposing the Penn Station First Plan.