Three new visions for northeast corridor rail

November 10, 2015

A look at the future of rail on the East Coast produced some pretty radical ideas for revamped Amtrak service in Philadelphia.Website Insert Development Finance and Management copy

Some of these proposals may seen unlikely to materialize, but they’re part of a first of its kind project that seeks to create a unified vision for the future of rail along the nation’s northeast states.

Among the ideas pitched in the Federal Railroad Administration’s environmental impact statement for the Northeast Corridor Futures report are a passenger rail stop at the Philadelphia Airport and another in the city’s downtown. Those possibilities are being suggested as the FRA looks 25 years into the future, when the population on the East Coast will be larger and their reliance on rail is projected to be more frequent.

“Part of it is where is the demand, and where is the ridership?” said Matthew Lehner, the agency’s associate administrator for communications.  “Where is the untapped ridership?”

The FRA estimates an additional six million people will live in the Northeast Corridor over the next 30 years, and current trends show rail will be a significant mover of people. Fifteen years ago, most trips between Washington and New York were traveled by plane. Today, the FRA reported, about 70 percent of those trips are taken by train. About 700,000 people travel the corridor each week day.

The report determined the Northeast Corridor has a $100 million impact on the economy each week day, about $35 billion per year, Lehner said.

“We can spend that amount investing or we can have nothing for $35 billion,” he said.

The report is a first for the Northeast Corridor, the rail route used by Amtrak that runs along the nearly 440 miles between Boston and Washington D.C. After receiving input from the public and city leaders, a final proposal should be released by summer 2016. That proposal could look like one of these below, or could borrow parts and pieces from all of them to create something different, Lehner said.
Read the full story and see maps from Philadelphia Inquirer staff writer Jason Laughlin by clicking here.

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