updated 12/14/2006 6:39:13 PM ET 2006-12-14T23:39:13

Two casino companies in Atlantic City and the New Jersey Transit signed a contract Thursday, finalizing train service between New York and the second-largest U.S. gambling market, a spokesman for one of the companies said.

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The service, scheduled to start in about a year, is expected to help Atlantic City casinos attract younger and more affluent customers from New York. Now, customers usually take either a bus or drive from New York City to the oceanside resort.

“This will help us attract customers who haven’t yet visited Atlantic City,” said Michael Facenda, a spokesman for the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa, a joint venture between Boyd Gaming Corp. and MGM Mirage.

Borgata and Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., the world’s largest gambling company, have formed a joint venture company for the purpose, Facenda said. They are investing about $17 million to buy and refurbish the rail cars.

The companies have bought eight cars from Bombardier Inc. , Facenda said.

New Jersey Transit, the state’s public transportation corporation, is contributing two electric locomotives and , will operate train. New Jersey’s Casino Reinvestment Development Authority will give $1.5 million a year for two diesel locomotives.

The rail service will initially operate from Friday to Sunday and is expected to carry about 2,000 people back and forth every weekend, Facenda said.

The express train from New York’s Penn Station will likely have one stop in New Jersey on its way to Atlantic City, Facenda said. The trip should take about 2 hours 40 minutes, about the same time as it takes on a bus from Manhattan, the casinos estimated.

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