Amtrak says it’s “Ready to Build”

Written by Railway Age, Editor-in-Chief
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Long starved of funding and subject to Washington’s political whims, Amtrak is taking its message to the public with the “Ready To Build” campaign, a series of short films showcasing five critical investments it says are vital to “the realization of a renewed, modern passenger rail system.”

“The campaign emphasizes needed investments at our major stations, including in Chicago Union Station, as well as in infrastructure along the busy Northeast Corridor (NEC), where the majority of Amtrak-owned assets are located,” the National Rail Corp. stated in unveiling the campaign today. “The NEC carries 260 million intercity and commuter customers each year and growing. However, demand for passenger rail service continues to outpace investment, resulting in a backlog of more than $38 billion of deferred capital investments that risks future service expansion and reliability.”

“The NEC is a central artery for the greater Northeast, which generates 20% of U.S. gross domestic product and is one of the country’s principle economic engines,” said Amtrak co-Chief Executive Wick Moorman. “These major projects are critical to keeping people, the economy and the nation moving forward.”

Amtrak and its state and federal entities have started the planning and regulatory reviews for the larger, multi-year projects but are awaiting funding in order to finalize design and begin construction. The projects include:

  • Hudson Tunnel Project (New York – New Jersey): Construction of a new Hudson River rail tunnel serving New York Penn Station will provide greater operational flexibility and infrastructure resiliency, following damage from Superstorm Sandy.
  • Portal North Bridge Project (New Jersey): Replacement of the century-old Portal Bridge with a new high-level, fixed-span bridge will result in faster trip times and greater reliability as well as eliminate the need to open for maritime traffic.
  • Major Stations Development (Northeast and Chicago): Leveraging public-private partnerships and underutilized land and air rights to transform 50+-year-old facilities into vibrant commercial transportation hubs.
  • Susquehanna River Bridge Project (Maryland): Replacement of existing two-track bridge with two new high-level bridges with a total of four tracks, allowing for increased speeds and eliminating the need to open for maritime traffic.
  • Baltimore & Potomac (B&P) Tunnel Project (Maryland): Replacement of the Civil War-era, 30-mph bottleneck with a four-tube tunnel that allows for more reliable and more frequent service.

To view the “Ready To Build” materials, click on