Green Light for Amtrak: Trains Doubling Between New York and Washington by 2038

$176 billion to rebuild the Northeast Corridor, the railway link with the highest passenger volume in the United States.

The railway transit link with the highest passenger volume in the United States is about to undergo a radical change with a staggering investment. Amtrak, the operator of the U.S. public railways, has indeed received approval for a $176 billion plan over 15 years to finally enhance the Northeast Corridor (NEC) and double the number of trains between New York and Washington by 2038.

The Northeast Corridor serves an economic basin worth three trillion dollars, connecting Boston with New York and Washington through continuous trains and a high-speed service, the Acela, capable of reaching speeds of over 150 miles per hour (240 km/h) for about 50 miles of tracks along the entire 457-mile line. The plan aims to rebuild the entire railway route, creating conditions to increase the accessibility and capacity of the NEC.

Green light for the transportation revolution

The Northeast Corridor Commission, a committee formed by Amtrak, commuter transport agencies, and the Department of Transportation, gave the green light in late November to the plan that will allow the NEC to handle 60% more commuter trains, 50% more Amtrak trains between Boston and New York City, and double the service between New York and Washington DC. The plan involves initiating bids for the reconstruction of obsolete bridges and outdated tunnels. Among these, for example, are two bridges called Sawtooth Bridges, built 116 years ago, which need replacement.

According to the Commission, with the improvement of this vital corridor, an additional 51 million travelers can be accommodated annually, potentially shifting about 38 million car trips and 600,000 short-haul air trips to the railway each year, resulting in an estimated reduction of 750,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. The NEC is electrified from Boston to Washington and west to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, although some commuter trains use diesel locomotives. The plan’s objective is to shift travel towards a more efficient railway transportation mode.

An opportunity to seize for the future of American railways

The approved spending package outlines the new future for Amtrak, which has been able to initiate the Gateway project, long frozen due to delays and political struggles, for the construction of a new two-track tunnel between New Jersey and New York. This project includes the refurbishment of century-old structures such as the Connecticut River Bridge and the Susquehanna River Bridge in Maryland.

The Gateway project, in addition to building a new tunnel and restoring the existing North River tunnel, operational since 1910, includes the construction of new tracks at New York Penn Station, new South and North Portal bridges over the Hackensack River in New Jersey, and the development of other service infrastructure.

The bipartisan infrastructure law, known as the Job Act, has granted Amtrak the largest funding in its history, with $66 billion to be used over five years. With this funding, the railway company aims to change Americans’ mobility habits. Based on these goals, Amtrak has also entered into a partnership with the private company Texas Central for the construction of a high-speed train between Dallas and Houston, entrusted to the Webuild group.