The US Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has released the Northeast Corridor (NEC) FUTURE Record of Decision (ROD), marking the completion of the Tier 1 environmental review process.

The ROC also establishes a long-term strategy to improve passenger rail service for the 457mi-long NEC, which stretches from Boston, Massachusetts, to Washington, D.C.

NEC FUTURE ROD has been developed in coordination with NEC states, local communities and railroads, as well as public input.

FRA has outlined plans to improve the reliability, capacity, connectivity, performance and resiliency of passenger rail services across the NEC region through 2040 and beyond.

The total combined cost estimate for all projects under the ROD ranges from $121bn to $153bn.

US Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said: “Safe, reliable and efficient rail transportation is a vital part of our nation’s infrastructure. 

"FRA has outlined plans to improve the reliability, capacity, connectivity, performance and resiliency of passenger rail services across the NEC region through 2040 and beyond."

“And expediting the project delivery process is key to delivering needed infrastructure more quickly.”

The ROD outlines out a list of options to enhance passenger rail services, which have been identified by FRA.

These include increasing the number of regional commuter trains, improving travel times between key city centres and expanding the NEC to a modernised, integrated four-to-six-track configuration, as well as the installation of integrated ticketing systems and the creation of more convenient connections.

Additional options include adding more than 200mi of expanded track capacity between Washington, D.C., and New Haven, Connecticut, and between Providence, Rhode Island, and Boston, Massachusetts, among others.

The ROD notes that ridership is expected to increase by about 70% at New York’s Penn Station, more than 80% at Washington, D.C.’s Union Station and 50% at Boston’s South Station by 2040.