Newark Liberty’s $2B AirTrain replacement project stays on track after it earns key federal approval

Port officials say AirTrain replacement is critical to airport’s redevelopment, including new $2.7B air terminal and new car rental facility

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a Final Environmental Assessment for the proposed AirTrain replacement at Newark Liberty International Airport, keeping the project on track and sustaining the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s commitment to creating world-class AirTrain systems across its airports.

The FAA issued a Finding of No Significant Impact/Record of Decision on Aug. 13, based on a review of 17 areas of assessment. The findings are available here.

Port Authority officials say the decision allows the Port to build momentum toward state-of-the-art mass rail transit systems that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion and provide a safer, more accessible ride for air travelers. In July, the FAA issued a ROD for the planned La Guardia AirTrain following an exhaustive environmental review.

The approval will come following 30 days of public comment and agency environmental review.

Port officials say Newark AirTrain replacement is critical to airport’s redevelopment, including new $2.7 billion air terminal and new car rental facility.

Construction on the $2.05 billion AirTrain project is scheduled to begin in mid-2022, with new service set to start in 2026. Once completed, the new AirTrain Newark will be a 2.5-mile elevated guideway train system. It will replace the existing, but outmoded AirTrain, which opened in 1996 and was extended in 2001 and remains vulnerable to frequent breakdowns and delays.

About AirTrain

Newark Liberty International Airport is a key international gateway to New Jersey, the region and the nation, handling more than 46.5 million air passengers in 2019. That year, the AirTrain averaged 33,000 passengers per day, or approximately 12 million passengers per year. It provides access to the Northeast Corridor Rail Link Station and assists customers and employees transferring between air terminals, parking lots and rental car facilities.

“This decision is a key step in replacing the long-outdated AirTrain,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement. “New Jerseyans and travelers deserve a world-class transit system at Newark airport, and we are much closer to attaining that reality with the FAA’s latest action.”

Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole said he is happy the project is moving forward.

“The current AirTrain Newark has outlived its usefulness,” he said. “Its replacement will create a new rail system that offers a 21st-century customer experience for airport visitors and employees, as we continue to reimagine and redevelop Newark Liberty airport.”

To accommodate future passenger growth at Newark Liberty, the Port Authority has embarked on several planned transformational capital projects, including a new $2.7 billion Terminal A and a state-of-the-art Consolidated Rent-a-Car Center, ConRAC, which will accommodate numerous rental car agencies at one convenient location at the south end of the airport.

In addition, the new train system will be designed to maximize customer convenience, with seamless connections to other forms of transportation, and provide modern wayfinding, digital tools and amenities in AirTrain stations and in vehicles. It will connect to the new terminal and to ConRAC.

“Modern, world-class mass rail transit is the future of travel into and around the Port Authority’s airports,” Executive Director Rick Cotton said. “It will enable this agency to provide a safer, more accessible ride for travelers, greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lead to lower road congestion around our airports.”