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Amtrak considers reviving tunnel

By Associated Press and staff reports

Amtrak officials are looking into reviving the scuttled rail tunnel under the Hudson River.

An Amtrak official told the Asbury Park Press for Monday's newspapers that the government-owned passenger rail system has been discussing a deal with New Jersey Transit to work on the tunnel connecting New Jersey and New York City.

Work on a tunnel began last year. But New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie killed the project last month, saying the overrun costs would be too much for his state's taxpayers.

The project was expected to cost about $9 billion before any overruns.

New Jersey Transit says talks with Amtrak are preliminary.

Amtrak Vice President Al Engel says the agency is looking into using the tunnel for high-speed rail.

"A partnership would be the immediate strategy to get two tracks [built under the Hudson] as soon as possible," said Al Engel, Amtrak vice president of high speed rail, who was interviewed by the Asbury Park Press after he addressed the Transportation Research Forum New York Chapter on Thursday. "We're beginning to explore what value there is in the ... work that can be salvaged."

Construction on the tunnel began last year. It was designed to double the capacity for NJ Transit commuter and Amtrak trains between New York and New Jersey.

The Northeast Corridor has grown increasingly congested for train traffic, and Amtrak has been studying whether there was a need for yet another tunnel between New Jersey and New York City -- in addition to the project that Christie stopped. Rail ridership between Washington and Boston is expected to double by 2030.

In September Amtrak President Joseph Boardman unveiled a $117 billion, 30-year vision for high-speed rail on the East Coast that would drastically reduce travel times along the congested corridor, saying the Next-Gen High Speed Rail line would reduce the travel time between Washington and New York City from 162 minutes to 96 minutes.

Earlier this fall, Amtrak named Engel to head a new high-speed rail department.

By Associated Press and staff reports  | November 8, 2010; 9:30 AM ET
Categories:  Amtrak  
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