First and foremost, the FRA says the plan prioritises bringing the NEC back to a state of good repair, first. Beyond this, providing four tracks along most of the corridor will reduce journey times by 45 minutes between New York and Boston to 2h 45min, and offer a 2h 10min journey between New York and Washington, DC, a 35-minute improvement.
The plan also aims to provide inter-city access to Philadelphia Airport to avoid a change at 30th Street Station and adding frequent and direct services to Hartford, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts.
The vision is the culmination of a process that began in 2012 and as well as the FRA involved consultation with the northeast states, federal and state partner agencies and public engagement through numerous meetings.
FRA says that the recommendations remain recommendations, and it is now up to the states, cities and railways to take the next step and decide whether to advance specific projects, with each requiring individual review, environmental study, and significant funding. The FRA also encouraged the business community, railways, states, Congress and the millions of passengers who use the NEC to make the case with following through with the vision.
“While building this recommendation would require significant investment, the cost of doing nothing is much greater,” says US transportation secretary Mr Anthony Foxx. “The communities and economies of the northeast cannot grow and flourish without significant, new investment.”