Amtrak unveils $151bn upgrade plan for the Northeast Corridor

10 July 2012 (Last Updated July 10th, 2012 18:30)

Amtrak has announced a $151bn redevelopment plan to expand capacity on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) rail network in the US.

Acela

Amtrak has announced a $151bn redevelopment plan to expand capacity on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) rail network in the US.

The plan includes the development of a 220mph (354kph) next generation high-speed rail line (NextGen HSR) to reduce the trip between New York and Philadelphia to 37 minutes, down from one hour and 15 minutes.

According to the Amtrak NEC business and financial plan (B&F plan), the company has revised its projections for costs, ridership and the alignment of its proposed new 438-mile high-speed corridor.

By 2015, Amtrak will acquire 40 more Acela Express passenger cars to increase capacity by 40%, while it is also planning to double the Acela service between New York and Washington by 2020, with upgraded tracks and signals allowing train speeds of 160mph.

Amtrak aims to improve access to New York by 2025, with two new tunnels under the Hudson River and expanded infrastructure between Newark, New Jersey and Penn Station.

"The next generation high-speed rail line will reduce the trip between New York and Philadelphia to 37 minutes."

Further plans include building a high-speed New York and Washington line, which is expected to be finished by 2030, and an express route between New York and Boston, scheduled for 2040.

Amtrak president and CEO Joe Boardman said that the NEC region is a US economic powerhouse and is facing a severe crisis with an aging and congested multi-modal transportation network that routinely operates at or near to capacity in key segments.

"With an expected 30% population increase by 2050, we must move beyond mere preservation and rehabilitation of the current system to a new vision for expanded transportation capacity and growth," Boardman said.

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) administrator Joseph Szabo said that on a daily basis, about 2,100 passenger trains and 50 freight trains use the Northeast Corridor.

"The FRA is leading a collaborative process involving all of our stakeholders that will produce a comprehensive vision necessary to keep pace with demands of a growing population," Szabo said.

The FRA-led Passenger Rail Corridor Investment Plan (PRCIP) will develop a new long-term service plan and related environmental analysis to create a NEC investment plan for the next 30 years.


Image: By 2015, Amtrak will buy 40 additional Acela Express passenger cars to increase capacity. Photo: courtesy of Konrad Roeder.