WASHINGTON – Eleven Northeast states from Maine to Maryland, with close support from Amtrak and the Coalition of Northeastern Governors (CONEG), announced the submission of a multi-state proposal requesting that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) lead a planning effort to further define the role that intercity and high-speed passenger rail can play in helping improve the region’s transportation network, expand capacity, relieve highway and aviation congestion, and stimulate sustainable economic growth along the Northeast Corridor (NEC).
The joint proposal is being submitted to the FRA with support from the following states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland.
The proposed study will build off the successful three-year collaboration among twelve states – including the Northeast states mentioned above and Virginia – Amtrak, and commuter and freight railroads to produce the Northeast Corridor Infrastructure Master Plan, which also is being released today as the foundational document for the proposed multi-state planning effort.
The proposed study will document capacity constraints across the entire transportation system in the Northeast from Maine to Maryland through 2050, including highways and airports. The scope of the study is designed to: identify projects contained in the Master Plan that are ready to move forward in the short to medium term; perform a multi-modal systems analysis; develop a preferred rail configuration plan; and lead to a revised Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for the NEC Main Line from Washington to Boston. The last PEIS was done in the late 1970s.
“The proposed study represents the collective efforts of the states that clearly recognize the need for a coordinated and systematic approach to the overall rail network in the east. Regional collaboration is what will keep our high-speed rail initiative moving forward. It’s what we have agreed to do together, and the best way to achieve long-term success,” said Joseph Marie, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Transportation, representing CONEG’s Transportation Chairman.
“Amtrak greatly appreciates its close working relationship with all the states and other railroads and stakeholders who participated in developing the NEC Master Plan,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman. “We look forward to continuing our region-wide partnership as we move forward with the goal of developing the next-generation Northeast Corridor, including expansion of high-speed rail services.”
The NEC Master Plan is designed to accommodate growth needs for all users of the NEC through 2030, expand service, particularly to outlying areas of the region, and improve the high-speed Acela Express travel times by 20 to 30 minutes from Boston to New York and New York to Washington, respectively. The plan is intended to support future economic growth, environmental and energy goals for the Northeast region.
Specifically, the Master Plan identifies an initial baseline of infrastructure improvements needed to maintain the current NEC system in a state of good repair; integrate intercity, commuter and freight service plans; and move the NEC forward to meet expanded service, reliability, frequency, and trip time improvement goals.
Amtrak will be coordinating work they are doing on the potential for next- generation high-speed rail with the Northeast states from Maine to Maryland, as part of the multi-state planning study.