Amtrak will receive nearly $745 million from the federal government to upgrade its Northeast Corridor rail lines, with the goal of allowing trains to run at increased speeds along the heavily used tracks.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the grants Monday which are a portion of more than $2 billion in awards redirected from Florida after Gov. Rick Scott rejected the funds. Scott said he feared a high-speed rail line proposed to link Tampa and Orlando would encounter cost overruns and be too costly for the state.
The Northeast Corridor will receive $449.94 million to upgrade track and electrical components between Trenton and New York City. DOT officials said the change would allow Acela trains to increase their speeds in the section from the current 135 mph to 160 mph. Future Acela trains would be able to operate at maximum speeds of 186 mph along that section.
The work would include the replacement of overhead wires and upgrades to power supplies, tracks and signals.
The rest of the award will provide Amtrak with new routes to separate its trains traveling between New York and Boston from the congestion of commuter rail lines in Manhattan.
“With our population expected to grow by 100 million more people between now and 2050, we are investing in a high-speed rail system that connects to other modes of transportation, reduces congestion and improves the efficiency and reliability of travel in America,” Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo said in a statement.
“Increasing speeds and improving service on the Northeast Corridor, which is the most heavily-traveled passenger rail corridor in the nation, is a crucial part of our effort.”
Construction on the projects is expected to start over the next year. Officials said the work would generate 12,000 jobs.
The Obama administration signaled in May that Amtrak would receive the latest grants during a round of awards for federal high-speed rail funding.
Amtrak plans to announce a team today to help develop a plan for its next generation of rail, high-speed service that would travel up to 220 mph on the Northeast Corridor.
Last fall Amtrak revealed a $117 billion, 30-year vision for high-speed rail on the East Coast. House Republicans, however, have proposed privatizing the high-speed rail effort.