New York Post, September 26, 2003



September 26, 2003

A Metro-North train has been parked under The Waldorf-Astoria hotel this week as an "escape option" in the event of a terror attack on President Bush and other world leaders who stayed there, The Post has learned.

The Secret Service arranged for the train to sit along an abandoned platform connected by an underground passage to the landmark hotel in case an attack made it necessary to whisk leaders away to safety, law-enforcement sources said.

The brand-new, full-size train is always running and ready for an instant departure, the sources said.

The platform - identified as Track 61 on Grand Central Terminal blueprints - can be directly accessed from inside the posh hotel in the event of an emergency.

A 6-foot-wide freight elevator and stairway also connects the subterranean platform to a brass-sheathed door located on street level at 101-121 E. 49th St. under a sign that reads, "Metro-North Fire Exit."

The nondescript door is adjacent to the Waldorf's garage, which was filled with police cars and other escort vehicles from the president's motorcade - another escape option in the event of an emergency.

Several world leaders are staying and holding meetings at the Waldorf this week in conjunction with the U.N. General Assembly session.

Bush stayed at the hotel during his two-day visit on Tuesday and Wednesday, along with members of his Cabinet, including Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

Other leaders, such as Russia's Vladimir Putin, France's Jacques Chirac and Germany's Gerhard Schroeder, have held meetings at the Waldorf.

In the event of a security breach, Bush and other leaders could have boarded the train, which could then have sped off to a secure location.

The unused station is under the Waldorf on 49th Street and Park Avenue and was never meant for riders. The 42-story hotel was completed in 1931.

The platform and adjacent tracks are normally used as a yard for out-of-service Metro-North trains and can be seen by commuters going in and out of Grand Central.

See: Abandoned Tracks