Network Rail Consulting says its experience in operating, maintaining, and upgrading one of the world's busiest railway networks was crucial in securing membership of the forum, which has been set up to study options for improving the Boston – New York – Washington, DC route.

"We believe we have much to offer other railways around the world and we are eager to support Amtrak in this key initiative," says Network Rail Consulting chairman Mr Simon Kirby. "The NEC Partner Forum is a good fit for our business and will allow us to share valuable experience in developing pioneering approaches to asset management and the successful delivery of large and complex capital projects."

The NEC is the United States' busiest passenger railway, carrying over 750,000 passengers per day, and faces significant challenges in accommodating growing demand on ageing infrastructure. Last month Amtrak president and CEO Mr Joseph Boardman warned the government that route will face a "major investment crisis" in the near future if politicians fail to agree on a programme of improvements.