THE United States’ Northeast Corridor (NEC) Commission released the $US 117bn Connect NEC 2035 (C35) 15-year plan on July 14, “representing the most ambitious reinvestment programme in the NEC’s history, and a new way of planning.”

The NEC, primarily owned by Amtrak, runs from Boston via Providence, New Haven, New York City, Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore to Washington, DC.

The “new way” is described as “a multi-agency, multi-year, shared action plan guided by a long-term vision.” The northeast state governments, United States federal government, eight commuter rail agencies and Amtrak collaborated through the NEC Commission “to develop a detailed and efficient sequencing of infrastructure investments covering 150 projects and capital renewal efforts along the corridor. Implementation of C35 will result in a modern and resilient railroad with safe, reliable, and more frequent service; connections to new markets; and reduced travel times between communities.”

The NEC Commission is governed by a board comprising one member from each of the NEC states - Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland - and the District of Columbia; four members from Amtrak; and five members from the US Department of Transportation. The commission also includes non-voting representatives from freight railroads, states with connecting corridors and commuter rail operators.

The NEC Commission said it “supports a strong federal-state funding partnership to fund C35. The total investment needed to implement C35 over the 15-year period is estimated to be $US 117bn in 2020 dollars, and the funding gap is approximately $US 100bn, to be shared between the federal government and states. To maximise the detailed sequencing laid out in C35 and provide the certainty needed to make long-term investments in workforce development and equipment procurement, multi-year funding needs to be predictable and should fund the plan, rather than individual projects.”

C35 is also the first phase of the long-term vision for the corridor established in the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) 2017 NEC Future plan, making significant improvements to NEC rail service for both existing and new riders, on both commuter rail systems and Amtrak. C35, the NEC Commission notes, would result in “a renewed NEC with the following benefits for a thriving Northeast region”:

  • travel time savings valued at nearly $US 140m annually for inter-city and commuter rail passengers corridor-wide
  • reducing Washington, DC - New York City by 26 minutes for Acela passengers, and by 28 minutes for New York City - Boston services
  • reducing New Haven, Connecticut - New York City travel times by 25 minutes
  • a 33% increase in daily Amtrak NEC service and twice as many services on several commuter railways
  • new one-seat ride services in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut on NJ Transit, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North into Penn Station, New York
  • nearly 1.7 million new jobs and $US 90bn in earnings over 15 years throughout the United States
  • new and enhanced connections between affordable housing and high-wage job centres
  • new off-peak and reverse-peak services for underserved markets
  • providing long-term viability for existing services
  • 60 million new rail trips annually
  • investments in infrastructure to build a more resilient railway
  • innovation districts and a catalyst for ongoing development initiatives in places such as Newark, Delaware; Philadelphia; Providence; and Boston, and
  • reliable, frequent access to support that will sustain transit-oriented development.

“Improving the NEC rail system is a vital multi-state effort,” says deputy federal railroad administrator and NEC Commission co-chair, Mr Amit Bose. “C35 is a sequenced plan and a mobilising force that not only puts people back at work renewing the NEC, but also supports new travel patterns as our economy returns to full strength.”

“The corridor supports more than 800,000 daily passenger trips between the greater Washington, DC and Boston regions,” says NJ Transit president and CEO and NEC Commission co-chair, Mr Kevin Corbett. “It is imperative that together we seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity to replace aging assets, add rail capacity, improve performance, and enhance the customer experience along the entire corridor through the advancement of the vital and ambitious C35 plan.”

“C35 represents a big step toward the high-quality rail network our nation and this vital region deserve,” says Amtrak president, Mr Stephen Gardner. “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. Amtrak stands ready to join forces with our partners and help deliver the C35 plan.”

The complete Connect NEC 2035 plan and territory fact sheets are available at