- The Northeast Corridor Commission — a coalition of Amtrak, commuter transit agencies, states and the U.S. Department of Transportation — announced Nov. 16 an ambitious 15-year plan to rebuild the Boston-New York City-Washington, D.C., rail line.
- The plan is an update to one set out in 2021 that outlined repair needs, service goals and the necessary infrastructure to achieve those, and is estimated to cost $176 billion in inflation-adjusted, year-of-expenditure dollars.
- “The Northeast Corridor is vital to hundreds of thousands of Americans and the American economy, and investing in it is a priority of the Biden-Harris Administration,” said Amit Bose, administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration and co-chair of the NEC Commission, in a statement.
Amtrak expects ridership along the Northeast Corridor to return to or exceed pre-pandemic levels by 2024. The NEC also carries the commuter trains of transit agencies serving Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. Under the Commission’s latest plan, the NEC will handle 60% more commuter trains and 50% more Amtrak trains between Boston and New York City. The plan will also nearly double the number of Amtrak trains between New York City and Washington, D.C.
“Amtrak ridership on the Northeast Corridor is at all-time record levels, and the projects included in this plan will provide the capacity, reliability, and service improvements that our customers need and deserve,” Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner said in a statement.
The planned improvements would accommodate 51 million more travelers each year, potentially shifting some 38 million car trips and 600,000 short-haul plane trips to rail each year, according to the Commission. The Northeast Corridor is electrified from Boston to Washington and west to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, although some commuter trains use diesel locomotives. In addition to shifting travel to rail’s more carbon-efficient transportation mode, upgrades to the NEC aim to improve its climate resiliency and make electric power systems less susceptible to outages in extreme weather.
The Federal Railroad Administration awarded $16.4 billion to 25 passenger rail projects in the Northeast Corridor on Nov. 6, funded by the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program, which was established by the 2021 infrastructure law. Those projects are included in the Commission’s latest plan. The infrastructure law provided additional funding, which is expected to account for about a third of the available funding for the NEC plan. In total, approximately 40% of the estimated cost of the Commission’s plan is funded through existing or expected federal, state and local sources.
According to the Commission, the corridor’s collective jurisdictions will work with the Commission on regional improvements. The plan includes detailed sequencing of construction that can allow for completion within 15 years with minimal disruption to riders.
“Amtrak, the states, and the federal government all recognize the importance of the Northeast Corridor to the regional and national economy,” said Northeast Corridor Commission Executive Director Mitch Warren in a statement.