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Amtrak kicks off 'Ready to Build' infrastructure campaign

Construction of a new Hudson Tunnel is one of Amtrak's critical infrastructure projects in need of funding.
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Amtrak yesterday unveiled its "Ready to Build" campaign, which features a series of short films showcasing five critical investments that Amtrak officials believe are key to developing a modern passenger-rail system.

The campaign emphasizes investments in major Amtrak rail stations, as well as in infrastructure on the Northeast Corridor (NEC), where the majority of Amtrak-owned assets are located, Amtrak officials said in a press release.

The corridor carries 240 million intercity and commuter passengers each year — and that number is growing. However, the demand for passenger-rail service is outpacing investment, which has resulted in a backlog of more than $38 billion in deferred capital investments, they said.

That lack of investment poses a risk to future service expansion and service reliability, Amtrak officials believe.

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

Amtrak and its state and federal partners have begun planning and regulatory reviews for the multiyear projects. Once funding is identified and obtained, Amtrak and its partners are ready to finalize design and begin construction, officials said.

The critical investments are:

Hudson Tunnel project between New York and New Jersey. The project entails construction of a new tunnel serving Penn Station in New York City.

Portal North Bridge project in New Jersey. The project would replace the century-old Portal Bridge with a new high-level, fixed-span bridge that will speed up trip times, improve rail-service reliability and eliminate the need to open for maritime traffic.

Major stations development in Chicago and the Northeast. These projects would leverage public-private partnerships and under-used land and air rights to transform decades-old stations into more modern transportation hubs.

Susquehanna River Bridge project in Maryland. That project would replace an existing two-track bridge with two new high-level bridges with a total of four tracks to allow for higher train speeds and eliminate the need to open for maritime traffic.

Baltimore and Potomac (B&P) Tunnel project in Maryland. The project would replace a Civil War-era, 30 mph bottleneck with a four-tube tunnel that would allow for more reliable and frequent service. 

Amtrak is the majority owner of the NEC infrastructure and connecting corridors. The NEC runs through eight states and the District of Columbia. It is used by Amtrak, eight commuter railroads and multiple freight operators that, together, run nearly 2,200 daily trains.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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