Transport Theory

DOT to upgrade Northeast Corridor railway

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The U.S. DOT announces its second large-scale investment in railway infrastructure this month, looking to improve the nation's busiest rail line, the Northeast Corridor.

Northeastern rail commuters, rejoice!

The U.S. Department of Transportation yesterday released nearly $745 million for construction upgrades along the Northeast Corridor railway, the most heavily-traveled passenger rail corridor in the country.

“With gas prices on the rise and congestion clogging our roads, more and more Americans are choosing to travel by train,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo.  “With our population expected to grow by 100 million more people between now and 2050, we are investing in a high-speed rail system that connects to other modes of transportation, reduces congestion and improves the efficiency and reliability of travel in America."

The section between Trenton, N.J.  and New York City will receive $449.94 million towards upgrading tracks and electrical systems. In a statement, the DOT said the improvements would initially allow Amtrak's Acela trains to travel as fast as 160 mph. It said that once Amtrak purchases new high-speed trains, commuters will eventually be able to ride at speeds as high as 186 mph.

An additional $294.78 million will go towards improving the Harold Interlocking rail junction in Queens, creating a flyover that will separate Amtrak trains traveling between Boston and New York from Long Island Railroad, Metro-North, and NJ Transit commuter trains.

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

Together, these projects are expected to create 12,000 jobs. On the section between Trenton and New York City, pre-construction is expected to start in late 2011, and construction is set to begin in 2012. Work on Harold Interlocking will begin in September 2012, according to the DOT.

This is the DOT's second significant railway infrastructure project to be announced this month. The move is part of a broader effort by the Obama administration to develop the country's railway systems while creating manufacturing jobs at a time when U.S. economy continues to struggle.

Photo: Tim Gilliam

Channtal Fleischfresser

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Channtal Fleischfresser has worked for The Economist, WNET/Channel 13, Al Jazeera English, Wall Street Journal and Associated Press. She holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure