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NEW YORK CITY-Amtrak plans to relocate its New York operations into Moynihan Station under a general agreement announced Sunday. The specifics of the agreement, which apparently revives the long-discussed plan to transform the Farley Post Office Building on Eighth Avenue into a rail terminal, will be finalized in the coming weeks and a memorandum of understanding will be issued, according to a news release from Gov. David Paterson.

“New York City is the linchpin of Amtrak’s service network in the Northeastern United States, and I welcome this long-term partnership with Amtrak to preserve and enhance the role of rail in New York State and across the region,” Paterson says in a statement. Sen. Charles Schumer, who proposed the plan to relocate Amtrak operations from Penn Station six months ago and helped negotiate the agreement, says in a statement that it’s “a critical step forward in the effort to get the Moynihan Station back on track and keep it that way until it’s done.”

The plan announced Sunday calls for a new train hall to be constructed in the Farley building, with costs estimated at $1 billion to $1.5 billion, according to published reports. It will be paid for largely through federal stimulus funds, although there is reportedly a gap of several hundred million dollars.

The agreement also creates a partnership between New York State and Amtrak to plan for the long-term future of the station complex and the New York City intercity and regional rail network, according to the release from the governor’s office. The New York Times quoted a Schumer spokesman as saying that the state had agreed to Amtrak’s request to share in revenue from retail outlets in the expanded station and to make some design changes.

In a release, the Regional Plan Assoc. calls the agreement “all around good news. By moving to the historic Farley Post Office, Amtrak will gain a world-class flagship building for its busiest and most important station.” The RPA says that the Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit as well as Amtrak will “benefit from a more efficient and spacious Moynihan Station complex, east and west of Eighth Avenue, with Amtrak relocated to Farley. Finally, the fact that Amtrak and the State of New York are working in partnership helps to clear the way for federal stimulus funding, which is necessary to see the project through.”

The scale of the current Moynihan Station plan is considerably smaller than earlier versions of the project. A plan under consideration until mid-2008 would have moved Madison Square Garden from its current location above Penn Station and redeveloped the existing Penn Station. That aspect of the plan was scrapped after the Garden’s owners announced that they would renovate the 41-year-old arena in place.

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