Monday, July 09, 2012

Amtrak's high-speed Northeast Corridor plan at $151 billion, Philadelphia to New York in 37 minutes

In a report released Monday Amtrak revised its projections for costs, ridership, and the alignment of its proposed new 438-mile high-speed Northeast Corridor. The segment between New York and Washington would be completed by 2030, and the route between New York and Boston by 2040. The updated plan for high-speed train travel on the East Coast envisions 37-minute trips between Philadelphia and New York, after a $151 billion redevelopment of the entire Northeast Corridor. Faster service would be phased in gradually, as Amtrak improves existing tracks, signals, bridges, and power lines and then builds a separate high-speed corridor between Washington and Boston to accommodate trains traveling at 220 m.p.h.

In Philadelphia, Amtrak envisions bullet trains traveling in tunnels beneath the city, with stops at a new airport station and an expanded Market East station. The plan calls for 30th Street Station, now the city's main intercity rail hub, to be used for slower regional train service.

"I think what's at stake here is the global economic engine of the Northeast," Boardman said in an interview. "The business community in the Northeast has to wake up - they're at risk."

By 2015 Amtrak will acquire 40 more Acela Express passenger cars to increase capacity by 40 percent on the fastest Amtrak trains. By 2020, Amtrak plans to double Acela service between New York and Washington, with upgraded tracks and signals allowing train speeds of 160 m.p.h. and reducing Acela travel time between New York and Philadelphia to 62 minutes, from the current 70 minutes.By 2025, Amtrak proposes to complete the $14.7 billion "Gateway" project to improve access to New York, with two new tunnels under the Hudson River, an expanded Penn Station, and two new high-level bridges to replace the 100-year-old movable Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River. By 2030, Amtrak says, the high-speed corridor would be complete between NY and Washington, with trains making the trip from Philly to Washington in 54 minutes. (By comparison, the fastest Acela trip now takes 93 minutes.) By 2040, Amtrak proposes to have the full high-speed corridor complete, with trains running between New York and Boston or Washington in 94 minutes and from Philadelphia to New York in 37 minutes.

Amtrak wants to own the NEC in a couple decades with this plan, good for them.


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