The funding will go toward improvements that are an important first step in support of the Amtrak Gateway Project, which will construct new tunnels to access an expanded New York Penn Station, enhance regional economic development and job creation, and lay the foundation for the future launch of 220 mph next-generation high-speed service.
Specifically, the $450 million awarded to Amtrak is for a project to upgrade electrical power, signal systems, track and overhead catenary wires between Morrisville, Pa., and New Brunswick, N.J. – one of the busiest segments of the Northeast Corridor (NEC) and where the densest concentration of Acela Express high-speed rail operations occurs. It also will reconfigure track switches at the western entrance to New York Penn Station to mitigate congestion issues. The anticipated completion date is in September 2017.
As a result, Amtrak top speeds will increase from 135 mph to 160 mph along a 24-mile section of track. Combined with new equipment acquisition currently in the planning stages, the project supports plans to add six more Acela Express high-speed roundtrips between New York and Washington by 2018 and a total of 15 additional roundtrips by 2022 — doubling high-speed service from current levels.
In addition to the $450 million received by Amtrak, several states were awarded a total of $345 million for other NEC-specific projects each of which are vital for the reliability and capacity of the current NEC network. Amtrak worked closely with its state partners along the NEC during the application process to coordinate projects in order to maximize the expected regional improvements.
Amtrak also is encouraged that the U.S. Department of Transportation is awarding funding to states for other projects in the Northeast, the Midwest and in California that will benefit current Amtrak services and are critical building blocks for expanded and higher speed intercity passenger rail service across the nation.