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AASHTO Journal

Amtrak Releases Concept for 220 mph Train Along Northeast Corridor
A next-generation high-speed-rail service could be successfully developed in the Northeast with trains operating up to 220 mph on a new two-track corridor, resulting in a trip time of about three hours between Washington and Boston, according to a concept plan released Monday by Amtrak.

At an average speed of 137 mph, a trip between Washington and New York would take just 96 minutes, more than one hour faster than today. For the trip between New York and Boston, the average speed would be 148 mph and take just 84 minutes, a time savings of more than two hours.

"Amtrak is putting forward a bold vision of a realistic and attainable future that can revolutionize transportation, travel patterns, and economic development in the Northeast for generations," President and CEO Joseph Boardman said in a statement.

The Amtrak concept, "A Vision for High-Speed Rail in the Northeast Corridor," shows a financially viable route could be developed at an estimated price of $117 billion over 25 years. Upon its full build-out in 2040, high-speed train ridership would approach 18 million passengers with room to accommodate up to 80 million annually when capacity is reached. Total daily high-speed-rail departures in this corridor would increase from 42 today to as many as 148 in 2040. 

The service would generate an annual operating surplus estimated at $900 million. Amtrak forecasts that its construction would create more than 40,000 full-time jobs annually over a 25-year construction period. In addition to significant travel time savings between major cities, tremendous mobility improvements would come with environmental, energy, and congestion mitigation benefits, according to the national passenger railroad. The new transportation capacity obtained with this investment would allow a larger share of the intercity travel market to be via high-speed rail, strengthening sustainable, energy-efficient development in the corridor's metropolitan areas.

"As countries around the world continue to build out their transportation systems, we cannot afford to fall further behind," Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, said in a statement. "This is an important downpayment on the massive commitment necessary to bridge our infrastructure gap."

The Northeast region's population, economic densities, and growing intercity travel demand make it one of the premier "mega-regions" of the world, according to Amtrak, and an ideal market for high-speed-rail service.

Amtrak’s 32-page report is available at bit.ly/Amtrak092710.

10/1/2010
Questions regarding this article may be directed to editor@aashtojournal.org.