Leaders Want Modern Train Service
Recently we have seen a steady drumbeat of calls for improving passenger rail around the country. Elected officials, railroads and departments of transportation in state after state have been releasing plans and calling for investments to their passenger rail network. This past week saw two more such projects announced in Connecticut and Baltimore.
The Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and CT Transportation Commissioner Joseph Giulietti revealed the Time For CT project, an $8-10 billion passenger rail investment plan for their New Haven line. This plan would take one of the most successful commuter lines in the country and modernize it to provide faster, more frequent and reliable service.
These improvements will be accomplished by upgrading existing assets and using existing right of way. This includes straightening curves, upgrading their legacy signaling system, and replacing an aging diesel fleet.
Just as important is the fact that the New Haven Line connects the rest of Connecticut’s rail network to the Northeast Corridor. This project provides a strong foundation for additional investments in those feeder lines and amplifies other investments made across the NEC, such as in Baltimore.
On June 18th, Amtrak and the Maryland DOT announced a revised $4 billion plan to replace the rail tunnel just south of Baltimore. The Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel will be replaced by a pair of high-capacity tunnels for electrified passenger trains. The new tunnel will be named after abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass.
Amtrak and MARC Penn Line trains will benefit from the new tunnel tubes, which currently carry 9 million passengers every year. They should help eliminate the high rate of weekday trains that face delays due to construction and maintenance on the nearly 150 year old tunnels.
“Replacing the B&P Tunnel is an important endeavor that will result in faster, more reliable rail service for passengers up and down our country’s busiest rail corridor,” said U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “It will also be a key investment for Baltimore City. But it will take resources, a long-term commitment, and partnership among all of us at the federal, state and municipal level.”
With a large infrastructure package being debated in Congress, leaders around the country are requesting funding to improve passenger rail in their area. Local leaders understand the importance of a large federal investment in high-speed and intercity passenger rail.
This is why we are reaching out to all of the mayors whose communities would benefit from an integrated national network. They will play an important role in the debate on funding and we have the ability to educate them on the benefits of fast, frequent and affordable trains.