The Obama Administration has invested over $3 billion –more than any previous Administration– to improve rail service along the Northeast Corridor (NEC). We've helped develop stations and track; modernize power systems; replace aging infrastructure; and support purchases of new equipment.
Through the Federal Railroad Administration, we have also set in motion the first comprehensive planning effort to determine the future of America’s busiest rail corridor in more than three decades. We call it NEC FUTURE, and it is happening now.
The Corridor is a key component of the Northeast region's transportation system and is vital to the area’s sustained economic growth. Today, the 457-mile NEC—anchored by Boston's South Station in the north, New York's Pennsylvania Station in the center, and Washington's Union Station in the south—is one of the most heavily traveled rail corridors in the world. The NEC is shared by intercity, commuter and freight operations and moves more than 259 million passengers and 14 million car-miles of freight per year.
While improvements continue to be made, the NEC faces serious challenges, with century-old infrastructure, outdated technology, and inadequate capacity to meet current or projected travel demand. With similar capacity issues on the region's highways, and some of the most congested airports in the nation, the Northeast's economic future could be hampered by transportation constraints.
NEC FUTURE will coordinate and prioritize future investments in the Corridor so we can free the region from some of those constraints.
Recently, we published our Preliminary Alternatives Analysis Report. The report presents 15 alternatives that represent a wide range of possible futures for the NEC.
We want to hear from as many stakeholders as possible before going forward. Last week, our planning process continued with three very well-attended public meetings--in New Haven, Newark, and Washington, DC. Many thanks to everyone who participated in those sessions, where we heard a wide range of valuable perspectives on the preliminary report.
The next step is to apply screening criteria to help us identify the best options from among the 15 Alternatives, which will then be further evaluated as part of the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement. Ultimately, this leads to a preferred investment program.
And that will lead to a revitalization of this important rail corridor.
If it sounds like a long, careful process, it is. But we want to do everything we can to get it right--to build the rail corridor the Northeast needs, and build it to last.