Amtrak on June 5 reported submitting grant applications to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for 16 proposed Long-Distance projects to improve service and for 14 proposed Northeast Corridor (NEC) projects to update infrastructure, improve stations and expand service. Total value: more than $8 billion.
The Long-Distance service applications—totaling about $716 million—were submitted through two FRA programs funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act: the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program for projects outside the Northeast Corridor (April 21, 2023 deadline) and the Corridor Identification and Development Program (March 20, 2023 deadline).
Following are among the projects that Amtrak requested funding for:
- Multiple Cardinal and Sunset Limited service improvements, including increasing service to operate daily, up from three times per week currently; upping Cardinal train speeds and reducing travel times between Indianapolis and Dyer, Ind.; and returning Sunset Limited service to Phoenix, Ariz.
- Southwest Chief signal modernization between Colorado and New Mexico.
- Empire Builder rail improvements in Montana.
- I-20 Crescent service extension from Mississippi through Louisiana to Texas. (For more, read: “Amtrak, Southern Rail Commission Seek Federal Study for Long-Distance Service across Mississippi and Louisiana to Texas.”)
- Construction of a new Crystal City station that would add service to Arlington, Va.
Amtrak said it also submitted funding requests through the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program (FSP-NEC Program; March 27, 2023 deadline) to begin construction on several major backlog projects on the NEC. Valued at nearly $7.3 billion, Amtrak and its partners have been working to advance these projects through the design and engineering phases to prepare for construction.
- B&P Tunnel Replacement (Frederick Douglass Tunnel) Program. (For more, read: “Take a Look: Amtrak’s B&P Tunnel Replacement Program.”)
- East River Tunnel Rehabilitation Project.
- Susquehanna River Rail Bridge Project. (For more, read “FRA Awards $233MM in SOGR Grants.”)
- Connecticut River Bridge Replacement Project. (For more, read: “Amtrak Completes Design for Connecticut River Bridge Replacement Project.”)
- Springfield Line: Connecticut River Bridge Replacement Project.
- Bush River Bridge Replacement Program.
- Gunpowder River Bridge Replacement Program.
- Pelham Bay Bridge Replacement Project. (For more, read “FRA Awards $233MM in SOGR Grants.”)
- Infrastructure Renewal and Speed Improvement Program (Washington, D.C., to New Jersey).
- New Haven to Providence Capacity Planning Study.
- Baltimore Penn Station: Master Plan. (For more, read: Penn Station Partners Releases Renderings of Planned Baltimore Penn Station Expansion)
- Multiple Phase II Gateway Program Projects: New York Penn Station Expansion (for more, read: “New York State, City Agree on Penn Station Funding Framework”), Sawtooth Bridges Replacement (for more, read “FRA Awards $233MM in SOGR Grants”), Highline Renewal and State of Good Repair–Dock Bridge.
“In order for Amtrak to continue advancing a new era of passenger rail, we must make generational investments that require federal funding,” Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner said of the NEC projects. “Securing these grants would help reaffirm our commitment to improving and replacing critical railroad infrastructure, ensuring better service for years to come.”
“Amtrak’s Long Distance routes are vital mobility and economic links for communities around the country and we’re continually working to enhance them,” Amtrak Board Chair Tony Coscia said. “These grant applications reiterate our commitment to improving service for all Amtrak customers, from small, rural towns to major metropolitan areas.”
Separately, it won’t be until sometime in 2024 that Amtrak’s new Acela II high-speed trainsets for the NEC will begin revenue service, three years behind schedule, as problems during testing have surfaced.