Northeast Corridor Receives $450 Million in Federal Funds to Upgrade Rail Systems

by , 08/24/11
filed under: News,Transportation

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After months of heated debate and jumping through bureaucratic hoops, the US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the release of $450 million in federal funds to upgrade the rail electrical systems and tracks along the Northeast Corridor. Amtrak will receive the $450 million, and an additional $295 million will go to the New York State Department of Transportation for improvements on the Harold Interlocking rail junction in Queens.

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“These grants are a win for our economy and a win for commuters all along the Northeast Corridor,” said Secretary LaHood in a statement. “We are creating new construction jobs, ordering American-made supplies and improving transportation opportunities across a region where 50 million Americans live and work.”

A recent study showed that the Northeast Corridor — one of the busiest in the country — would be most suited for high speed rail. The study also shows that a rail going along Boston to Washington, D.C. with stops in New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore as the most worthwhile and cost effective. For example, rails from New York to Philadelphia and New York to Albany are about 150 miles long, which makes the construction cheaper than some of the other rail projects across the country, such as a rail going from Orlando to Tampa.

The money was originally rejected by Florida Governor Rick Scott, and later split between a number of other states who had similar high speed rail projects. $795 million — the largest chunk of the cash — was sent towards the Washington DC – New York – Boston corridor. The improvements will now allow trains to run at speeds up to 160 miles per hour.

Back in June, Republican congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey also sought to prevent funds from being used in the state. He proposed instead diverting the funds for the flood relief efforts in the Midwest. New Jersey’s senators, Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, however, intervened, writing a letter to LaHood “urging him to release the money so work on the high-speed rail project could move forward.”

“It is great news for New Jersey that this funding has been saved from Republicans’ chopping block and awarded to Amtrak. Rail service is the lifeblood of our state’s economy and it is our responsibility to protect and strengthen it for our commuters,” said Senator Lautenberg in a press release. “This federal funding will significantly upgrade the rail lines for New Jersey Transit and Amtrak commuters, reduce delays that plague the Northeast Corridor and make our state home to the fastest stretch of high speed rail in the country.”

With rail improvements soon to be underway, this is an exciting new prospect for infrastructure development in New York and the rest of the Northeast. Hopefully, the U.S. will one day be able to catch up with Japan’s high speed rail system.

Via Transportation Nation



  1. usttnet August 28, 2011 at 12:50 am
    If all of us 'live in the moment', not giving a care to what i left when we are gone, then I can agree with both lazyreader and neko231 point of view. I ask though, in the interest of the future, shouldn't we start somewhere with the future? I guess if we could see some new advanced air travel which requires no fuel or can also ferry people from intra city locations. To me, we need more than just city to city rail, we need to advance the technology of travel for the united states and focus our efforts completely using US Mfg. / Technology and work force to build this new system of the future. But I dont believe it should be limited to Hub to Hub. I know this sounds really ideological but I'm dead serious and you might consider me to be a "conservative" and not fully agreeing with the policies of our party in Washington. Interested in getting serious discussion around the best possibly tecnoloies, people involved to back this pubicly.
  2. lazyreader August 25, 2011 at 8:58 am
    This idea makes no sense at all, yet it is widely believed by public officials and transportation planners. Then there is the report that Amtrak is spending $4.5 million for every second it is saving for the Acela between Trenton and New Brunswick, NJ ($450 million to save 1 minute and 40 seconds). That is 1 minute and 40 seconds for every Acela passenger, and there are about 3 million of those per year (though not all of them ride that stretch of track). Spending nearly half a billion to boost speeds only slightly more than normal. The highest rate of transit commuting are the “big six” transit regions (NY, SF, DC, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia). Once you get out of those regions, transit accounts less and less for commuting patterns. Never mind the fact that alone, Chicago’s rail system is on the verge of collapse, so the city is considering a bus-rapid transit network to accommodate those passengers. This is an excellent idea, and the city should really go further especially replacing its decrepit elevated rail lines (which will cost billions and billions just to replace let alone get new trains and pay enormous sums to transit unions) with cheaper buses. In the Northeast intercity buses are making an huge comeback and their growth is far exceeding Amtrak, as are the number of passengers that are using it. The tickets are cheaper and is barely subsidized by the government. Interesting how in nearly every example, from New York to Salt Lake City, is of a transit agency that is struggling to build or maintain an expensive rail system. If they didn’t have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on trains, they would have more than enough money to operate their clean, safe, buses and wouldn’t have to raise fares and cut service. Rail transit requires years to construct and decades to amortize (which may or may not happen). With reports stating that 20 percent of transit agencies say they have not only cut service but delayed new construction due to revenue shortfalls.
  3. neko231 August 24, 2011 at 6:44 pm
    I cant image high speed being built in america or actually. I can see mexico and canada doing it, but not the us. They are just to conservative there (opposed to change). We should just give up on the us and focus on europe and asia instead