Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Streetsblog.net

Holding Out for a More Cost-Effective Plan to Speed Northeast Rail

false

Last week Amtrak released a $151 billion plan [PDF] to make the Northeast Corridor -- already traveled by about 12 million people annually -- a true high-speed rail corridor. The plan would put New York within 94 minutes of Washington. It would halve travel times between Boston and New York. Amtrak offered a scheduled completion date of 2040, with the first phase finished in 2025.

But the big outstanding variable is the need for -- and current lack of -- federal support, especially with that kind of upfront cost. Rail advocates are questioning the staggering price tag. Alon Levy at Pedestrian Observations suggested significant improvements to the NEC could be made for just 10 percent of the projected cost.

Benjamin Kabak at Second Avenue Sagas calls the plan a "Hail Mary":

Amtrak is reaching for the sky here. They have a proposal with costs that are both literally and figuratively insane; they have an aggressive timeline; and they have no clear fiscal path between today’s Point A and 2040's Point B. I guess if you don’t ask, you can’t get anywhere, but sometimes, it may make sense to step back and assess the request first.

As a top-line summary, the costs break down like so: Amtrak is proposing nearly $19 billion for infrastructure upgrades; $14.7 billion for Gateway; $51.4 billion for high-speed rail between New York and D.C.; $58 billion for HSR between New York and Boston; and another $7.6 billion in rolling stock and maintenance facilities. These costs include six new stations, a few new water crossings, Moynihan Station, some right-of-way reconfigurations and some right-of-way acquisition costs. It’s a phased project that is moving forward as we speak, but it’s also designed to deliver incremental improvements. That 37-minute trip to Philadelphia should be 62 minutes by 2020, but it could also stay at 62 minutes for the foreseeable future.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Friday’s Headlines Go Back to the Future

If you liked the first Trump administration's transportation policies, you're going to love the second Trump administration's transportation policies.

July 19, 2024

Advocates Share What It Takes to Fight Highway Expansions in Court 

What does it take to sue your state DOT? Time, money, the right partners, and a little creativity, a recent survey of activists found.

July 19, 2024

Friday Video: Paris Does it Again

Come for the bike-friendly streets, but stay for adopt-a-tree program and all the car-free school roadways.

July 19, 2024

Talking Headways Podcast: IrrePLACEable

Kevin Kelley on his book Irreplaceable: How to Create Extraordinary Places that Bring People Together, and the future of downtowns.

July 18, 2024

This Heat Wave is a Car Dependency Problem

Our quickly warming planet has a unique impact on people who don't or can't drive — and we need policy action to protect their health.

July 18, 2024
See all posts