Amtrak Unveils 220 MPH High-Speed Rail Line Plan

NEW YORK (CBS/AP) — For New Yorkers who do business in Boston or Washington and want to get there in about 90 minutes without the headaches of air travel, Amtrak is hoping to make your dreams come true.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports

The company on Tuesday unveiled a $117 billion, 30-year vision for a high-speed rail line on the East Coast that would drastically reduce travel times along the congested corridor using trains traveling up to 220 miles per hour.

The proposal, which would require building a new set of tracks from Boston to Washington, D.C., is at the concept stage and there’s no funding plan in place, Amtrak President Joseph Boardman said at a news conference at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station.

The project would likely use some combination of public and private investment and hopefully be phased in starting in 2015, he said.

“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,” Boardman said in a release.

The Next-Gen High Speed Rail line would have hubs in Baltimore, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington and would cut travel times in half or better. It would reduce the travel time between Washington and New York from 162 minutes to 96 minutes, according to Amtrak. The travel time between New York and Boston would go from 215 minutes to 84 minutes.

About 12 million riders a year use Amtrak along the northeast corridor.

Under the high-speed system envisioned, the trains would be able to accommodate about 33.7 million passengers by 2040. Amtrak officials estimated the high-speed system would generate an $900 million more a year with the added ridership. Its construction would create more than 40,000 new jobs annually over a 25-year building period.

“Amtrak’s plan to modernize the Northeast Corridor and make it a truly high speed rail line is the type of innovative thinking we need to get cars off the road, decrease pollution and put people to work improving America’s infrastructure,” said Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). “I applaud the plan and pledge to work with Amtrak to improve the Northeast Corridor and make a America a leader in high speed rail.”

High-speed rail would not only help reduce congestion on the rails, but also in the skies, since it would be more enticing to passengers making shorter trips, according to Amtrak officials and others.

“No one should take a plane for a trip shorter than 500 miles,” said Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, noting that the system would be comparable to service now linking European countries.

The Democratic governor added that political leaders must generate the will to get the project done before current system is overwhelmed.

“It isn’t a dream, it isn’t a fantasy, it isn’t an illusion,” Rendell said. “Can we afford it? … We can’t afford not to do it.”

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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One Comment

  1. Rye DeByke says:

    Fire this fool immediately… better yet, send him packing on his decrepit joke of a train. Maglev is the technology. High speed rail is 1970’s technology. Get Homeland Security in on this and let them pitch 1,000 RSA Rail Monitoring Agents (former training involved asking if a customer would like ‘super-sizing’ ) to insure against sabotage at a cost of $500M per year. The decline of the American Empire has begun, as we rot from the inside out.

  2. Walter Johnston says:

    Exactly! Amtrak will spend billions to lay down steel rails,and the project will be obsolete the day they cut the ribbon, because the rest of the World will be running on maglev. Stupid, stupid Amtrak. No wonder they’re bankrupt….

    1. Diana Martin says:

      Maglev is a joke. Ask the Germans, who have tried it already.

  3. Al B. says:

    220mph? is this a joke. develop a maglev system to be built right down the center of i-95 from boston to dc and then on to richmond. bring america into the 21st century.

  4. Josh P says:

    How about a 10 year plan? American ingenuity and practicality demands better. 30 years? This isn’t the big dig or likewise. 10 years – do or die.

  5. mark random says:

    can some one explain why spending the equivalent of $3.9 billion a year for 30 years to generate $0.9 billion a year in new revenue is a good idea?

    1. jeff z says:

      It’s a good idea because our transportation system is stuck in the dark ages. It costs what it costs. I’m sure you’ll appreciate it when it’s done. Or maybe you’d rather spend the 3.9 billion on a new efficient way to kill people?
      Personally, I want the new trains…

  6. jay brieloff says:

    wow–only at least 20 years behind the rest of the world==france has had one for

    years–as had japan–even china has one in shanghai that is faster than 220 mph- so much for “the greatest country in the world”–we have lost that technological title a long time ago–see supersonic plane

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