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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

USDOT obligates funds to Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont and Connecticut


Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced it obligated $82.7 million in High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail funds to the states of Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont and Connecticut. The money will be used to upgrade the Northeast Corridor, Connecticut’s New Haven-Springfield line, Maine’s Downeaster route and the Vermonter service.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation will receive $26.2 million to design and construct an electrified third track parallel to the Northeast Corridor’s main line, and a new platform at the Kingston station.  The third track will enable faster trains to pass slower trains, reducing congestion and improving on-time performance for Amtrak and commuter trains operating along the Northeast Corridor.

The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority will receive $20.8 million to double-track portions of the Downeaster corridor between Boston and Portland, Maine; upgrade signals and grade crossings between Wilmington and Ballardville, Mass.; and install continuous-welded rail between Lawrence and Bradford, Mass. On-time performance for Amtrak’s Downeaster trains has deteriorated in recent years due to bottlenecks along the corridor, where the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority also operates commuter trains. The authority previously received a $38 million federal grant to expand service from Portland north to Brunswick, Maine.

In addition, the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) will receive $2.7 million to upgrade signal and train-control technology along a 16-mile segment of Amtrak’s Vermonter route. The agency also will upgrade the dispatch communication system. VTrans previously received $50 million to upgrade 190 miles of track between St. Albans and Vernon,Vt. The collective improvements will result in increased speeds, reduced travel time, and greater reliability.

Finally, as reported on yesterday, the Connecticut Department of Transportation will receive $30 million to double-track a six-mile segment of Amtrak’s New Haven-Springfield line between Hartford and Windsor, Conn. The segment will connect with an existing siding to create a nine-mile double-track segment along the corridor. In addition, the state will build an 8,500-foot siding through the Hartford Yard to better clear freight trains off Amtrak’s main line. The project also includes repairs and maintenance to bridges, signal improvements, and grade crossing improvements. Connecticut previously received $40 million for double-track work between New Haven and Hartford to reduce delays and improve travel time.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/20/2011