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Government

FRA Considers Northeast Rail Corridor Upgrades

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Federal Rail Administration
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The Federal Railroad Administration has several ideas on how to upgrade the aging Northeast Rail Corridor that runs from Washington, D.C. to Boston. The proposed ideas are part of a new FRA report looking at the environmental impacts of upgrading the rail corridor over the next 25 years. There are three proposals the FRA is considering, and one of them includes high speed rail options.

The proposals detail two possible high speed rail lines between New York and Boston that could travel up to 220 miles per hour.One of them would be on a path that follows the I-84 corridor—passing through Danbury, Waterbury, and Hartford.

The report also has a proposal for a different high speed train route that would go from New York City to Boston via Long Island by tunneling under the Sound and heading through New Haven and Hartford.

“Fine, those options are great to look at. But we’re looking at the existing rail line,” said Joe McGee, vice president of the Business Council of Fairfield County. "And we’re saying, listen, the existing rail line is where the focus has to be. What they’re essentially saying is, we don’t think we can really run high speed inner-city rail on the New Haven Line.”

McGee said right now nearly 40 million people a year ride Metro-North’s New Haven Line on trains that travel an average of 45 miles per hour.

“That’s ridiculous. We should be able to get from New Haven to New York in an hour, from Stamford to New York in 30 minutes," he said. "And while you’re doing that, there may be regional options where you can run trains to Boston at 125 miles an hour.”

The FRA says upgrades to existing infrastructure would be included in any proposal it may choose to pursue. The FRA's report does propose some improvements to the New Haven Line, including upgrades to tracks from New York to Westport.

Public hearings on the FRA’s proposals are scheduled through January throughout the Northeast, including hearings in Connecticut and on Long Island.