NYC Region Rail Boosters Urge Faster Trains, Plead for Funds

Quicker travel times and more frequent service would be among the benefits in a $117 billion, 15-year plan to revamp the Northeast Corridor from federal rail agencies, Amtrak and state governments.

The plan, unveiled Wednesday by the Northeast Corridor Commission, proposes to speed Acela travel times from New York City to Washington, D.C. by 26 minutes, to Boston by 28 minutes, and to New Haven, Conn. by 25 minutes. When completed by 2035, it would increase daily Amtrak service by 33% and add 60 million new rail trips each year.

The rail improvement plan was developed with input from state governments in the Northeast, federal officials, commuter rail agencies, and Amtrak.

“The investments in infrastructure laid out in this plan will lead to more modern, reliable, and faster trains, expanded service, and a better customer experience – that will benefit customers, economies and local communities along the entire Northeast Corridor and beyond,” Stephen Gardner, president of Amtrak, said in a statement.

The Northeast Corridor Commission has identified several pots of money that could be used for the plan, including funds for the Gateway Program between New York and New Jersey. Of the plan’s total cost, $100 billion is unfunded and the coalition proposes that the federal government jointly cover it with states.

The proposed plan comes as the administration and a group of senators recently agreed to a bipartisan infrastructure framework that would include $66 billion for passenger and freight rail.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in a statement that he will “fight for quick Congressional action to fund this transformative program and bring it to fruition.”

Amit Bose, deputy administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration and a co-chair of the commission, said in a statement that the plan “supports new travel patterns as our economy returns to full strength.”

The plan would support more than 150 projects along the corridor. It proposes starting construction on Gateway’s Hudson Tunnel Project by 2025.

The plan would also address accessibility and upgrading facilities to meet Americans With Disabilities Act requirements, Kevin Corbett, President and CEO of NJ Transit and an NEC Commission co-chair said.

“When you have 100-plus year-old infrastructure, to be ADA-compliant, it takes billions of dollars to overhaul all these stations,” he said.

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