A new report issued by Amtrak summarizes and updates the ongoing planning efforts to expand capacity on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) rail network to accommodate more trains operating at faster speeds with significantly reduced trip-times and improved service reliability while also developing 220 mph (354 kph) next generation high-speed rail (NextGen HSR).
The Amtrak Vision for the Northeast Corridor: 2012 Update Report describes the current stage of conceptual development and planning for the future of the NEC rail network. It details actions taken by Amtrak and other stakeholders since the release of two major NEC planning reports in 2010 and also highlights the key findings of a recently completed NEC business and financial plan. Most importantly, it provides input for a new NEC environmental analysis and planning process led by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).
"The NEC region is America’s economic powerhouse and is facing a severe crisis with an aging and congested multi-modal transportation network that routinely operates at or near capacity in key segments. With an expected 30 percent 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," said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman.
Recent Amtrak studies continue to indicate that improvement and expansion of the NEC, including the development of segments of NextGen HSR, is feasible and achievable using an integrated capital investment program and incremental implementation strategy.
"On a daily basis, some 2,100 passenger 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," Joseph C. Szabo, administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration said. He continued, "The vision we will shape with the Northeast states, Amtrak and all of our stakeholders will outlast the vagaries of politics, budgets, and critics. We applaud Amtrak for its planning efforts, which will provide us with useful information as we move forward with our own environmental review process."
NEC Future — FRA Passenger Rail Corridor Investment Plan (PRCIP)
The FRA-led PRCIP will develop a new long-term service plan and related environmental analysis to create a NEC investment plan for the next 30 years. The PRCIP is a critical step in defining and realizing future improvements to the NEC and will provide necessary information to support future FRA investment decisions. It is comprised of two components: a Service Development Plan that articulates the overall scope and approach for future intercity passenger rail service along the NEC and a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) programmatic environmental impact assessment that addresses the broad environmental impacts for the entire Corridor along the route of proposed service. It is to be completed in 2015.
Amtrak NEC Capital Investment Program (Program)
Since the release in 2010 of The Northeast Corridor Infrastructure Master Plan and A Vision for High-Speed Rail in the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak has continued its work and has now integrated these two plans into a single, coherent $151 billion service and investment program called the NEC Capital Investment Program. It calls for investments to be made over the coming several decades to improve and expand the NEC, and affirms the Amtrak commitment to implementing critically needed near-term Master Plan projects while advancing the long-term development of a 220 mph (354 kph) NextGen HSR network through incremental “Stair-Step” improvements to its current high-speed rail service.