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Amtrak considers new N.E. tunnel

Passengers prepare to board the Acela at Union Station. (By Gerald Martineau/The Washington Post)

Amtrak is studying whether there's a need to build a second rail tunnel to handle a growing number of passengers between New Jersey and New York City. Amtrak's master plan for the Northeast Corridor says ridership between Washington and Boston is expected to double by 2030, and the plan says the new tunnel is expected to provide only "some" relief.

The tunnel would be built within 20 years and join the century-old Hudson River crossing and an $8.7 billion tunnel that NJ Transit plans to build by 2017.

More than 1,000 trains arrive at New York's Penn Station from NJ Transit, Amtrak and the Long Island Rail Road each weekday.

Recently, Maryland and 10 other states asked federal railroad officials to develop a plan to upgrade high-speed passenger rail service along the Northeast Corridor over the next four decades.

The states proposed that the Federal Railroad Administration launch a three-year, $18.8 million study of possible expansions and improvements to Amtrak and commuter rail service along the Northeast Corridor from Boston to Washington.

Highways and airports in the Northeast already face "major congestion and capacity constraints," and the coalition warned that failure to enhance rail service would severely limit the travel needs of the region's 62 million residents and hurt economic growth.

-- Associated Press

By Michael Bolden  | June 17, 2010; 8:46 AM ET
Categories:  Amtrak  
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IS NJTransit going to utilize their new bore 100% of the time when it comes on-line? Or is a Amtrak tunnel a necessity already? Having worked the interlocking for the original tunnel 40 years ago and watching the traffic increase since, I know that the NJTransit bore is needed to handle what exists now, but, there are also significant engineering concerns involved with getting all the lines into the throat leading to the Penn Station tracks.
If a 3rd tunnel for Amtrak is a necessity, then they probably should engineer those issues into the NJTransit design or else the cost and disruption when they finally get around to building the Amtrak project will be outrageous.
Also, they should design in utilizing the new LIRR crossover to GCT to expand those tracks available to Amtrak for their Northeast corridor service.

Posted by: jimmy_mac | June 17, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure that NJ Transit intends to use their new tunnel exclusively for NJ Transit trains. However given the explosive growth in NE Corridor line passengers, there will likely need to be yet another new bore. Remember that the other side of Penn Station has 4 tunnels already, and more of that capacity can be used by Amtrak once LIRR connection to Grand Central is available...although I understand that Metro North intends to take some of the LIRR's previous capacity in Penn Station to run some Hudson Line (via the Empire Connection) and New Haven Line (via the Hell Gate Bridge) trains into Penn Station.

The section of track between Newark Penn Station and New York Penn Station is a huge bottleneck though, and something needs to be done. Given the severe highway congestion and severe airspace congestion, I think expanding that one bottleneck, which will positively impact train service all the way from Boston to DC, is a very wise investment, despite its huge cost. You won't get nearly as much bang for the buck investing that money into airport or roadway improvements.

Posted by: thetan | June 17, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

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