Amtrak works to modernize, speed up trains in busiest U.S. rail corridor

Amtrak works to modernize, speed up trains in busiest U.S. rail corridor

Reuters  | Jan 11, 2019 06:00PM ET

Amtrak works to modernize, speed up trains in busiest U.S. rail corridor

By David Shepardson

ABOARD AMTRAK TRAIN 182 (Reuters) - Amtrak is gearing up to introduce new high-speed Acela trains as it plans to spend billions of dollars in upgrades on the busiest U.S. rail corridor.

The national U.S. passenger railroad on Friday gave reporters a tour by train of the busy northeast corridor from Washington to New York, showing off places where the rail system needs upgrades, including an 1873 Baltimore rail tunnel with water infiltration issues that will cost $4.5 billion to replace and the 1906 Susquehanna River Bridge whose replacement is estimated to cost $1.7 billion.

Amtrak carries more than 12 million passengers a year in the corridor that accounts for nearly 40 percent of the railroad's traffic nationwide. It is spending about $700 million annually to maintain and upgrade the corridor but has long-term needs of more than $30 billion as it seeks to introduce next-generation higher speed service by 2040.

The final cost "depends on what version of the future you want to buy," said Stephen Gardner, Amtrak's executive president for planning, technology and public affairs.

Amtrak trains are often delayed because of freight traffic, and aging infrastructure requires slower speeds in many places.

The biggest immediate need is the “Gateway project” that would build a $13 billion rail tunnel under the Hudson River, replace the Portal North Bridge in New Jersey - a source of many trains delays - and rebuild the North River Tunnel that connects New Jersey and Penn Station, among other projects.

Failure of the lines in the current tunnel, which was damaged during 2012’s Superstorm Sandy, could come within a decade and would hobble commuting in the metropolitan area that produces 10 percent of U.S. economic output.

President Donald Trump met with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in November to discuss the "Gateway" project, but no funding agreement was reached. Amtrak has not identified funding for other large projects.

Many upgrades are aimed at letting trains travel at higher speeds and reducing delays, as well as replacing and resurfacing track and replacing switch panels. The railroad is also upgrading many northeast train stations.

By 2021, passengers in New York City will board trains from Moynihan Station in a new sunlit atrium concourse across the street from Penn Station as Amtrak moves into a larger space with a new customer lounge.

Amtrak is planning to start using new Acela trains starting in 2021. The railroad is buying 28 Acela train sets, eight more than it currently operates, using a $2.45 billion federal loan. It is also planning to buy a new fleet of trains for its slower Northeast Regional service in the middle of the next decade.

Caroline Decker, vice president for the Northeast Corridor Service Line, said Amtrak is considering offering some non-stop trains between New York and Washington that could cut at least 15 minutes off the current travel time.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Amtrak's high speed Acela at Washington's Union Station

Amtrak has fended off efforts by Trump to cut its federal subsidies. Last year Amtrak faced questions in the wake of several fatal accidents. Amtrak vowed improvements after the National Transportation Safety Board in 2017 criticized what it termed Amtrak’s “weak safety culture."

Related News

Latest comments

Add a Comment
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Write a reply...
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.

Trading in financial instruments and/or cryptocurrencies involves high risks including the risk of losing some, or all, of your investment amount, and may not be suitable for all investors. Prices of cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile and may be affected by external factors such as financial, regulatory or political events. Trading on margin increases the financial risks.
Before deciding to trade in financial instrument or cryptocurrencies you should be fully informed of the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite, and seek professional advice where needed.
Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. The data and prices on the website are not necessarily provided by any market or exchange, but may be provided by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual price at any given market, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Fusion Media and any provider of the data contained in this website will not accept liability for any loss or damage as a result of your trading, or your reliance on the information contained within this website.
It is prohibited to use, store, reproduce, display, modify, transmit or distribute the data contained in this website without the explicit prior written permission of Fusion Media and/or the data provider. All intellectual property rights are reserved by the providers and/or the exchange providing the data contained in this website.
Fusion Media may be compensated by the advertisers that appear on the website, based on your interaction with the advertisements or advertisers.

English (UK) English (India) English (Canada) English (Australia) English (South Africa) Deutsch Español (España) Español (México) Français Italiano Nederlands Polski Português (Portugal) Português (Brasil) Русский Türkçe ‏العربية‏ Ελληνικά Svenska Suomi עברית 日本語 한국어 中文 香港 Bahasa Indonesia Bahasa Melayu ไทย Tiếng Việt हिंदी
Sign out
Are you sure you want to sign out?
Saving Changes