Officials Unveil New Approach on Replacement Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel

(Photo courtesy of Amtrak)

Local, state and federal officials have unveiled a new approach for a project to replace the 1.4-mile-long Baltimore and Potomac (B&P) tunnel on the Northeast Corridor.

Additionally, Amtrak announced it will name the new tunnel, part of a range of investments to upgrade a four-mile section of the Northeast Corridor in Baltimore, after Maryland-born abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The project is funded by the federal American Jobs Plan (AJP).

Amtrak is currently performing the final design and initiating the acquisition of property in advance of starting construction. Pending funding for the roughly $4 billion investment, early construction activities on the tunnel’s southern approach could begin during the next one to two years.

“Built just after the Civil War, the B&P Tunnel is reaching the end of its useful life,” U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg said in a news release. “This project will modernize a critical part of the Northeast Corridor making the train work better for the 9 million passengers that depend on it each year.”

All MARC Penn Line and Amtrak trains will use the new Frederick Douglass Tunnel.

MDOT and Amtrak have agreed on a phased implementation approach. The initial implementation will include two new high-capacity tunnel tubes for electrified passenger trains but defer the construction of two additional tunnel tubes that could be designed to accommodate freight trains in the future.

To enable this new plan, Maryland Secretary of Transportation Gregory Slater announced MDOT will electrify its MARC commuter trains through the new tunnel.

“This is a generational project for passenger rail in the State of Maryland and the entire Northeast Corridor,” Slater said in a news release. “MDOT is proud to partner with Amtrak on the new approach, and we are ready to work with Amtrak and the federal government to move a new B&P Tunnel forward.”

Railfanning Review Podcast