$782 million a year needed to ensure future of NEC

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Amtrak president Joe Boardman has told a congressional committee that there is “insufficient” infrastructure investment in the Northeast Corridor (NEC) to cover the long list of improvements needed to keep services running on time.

Boardman said that $782 million is needed a year to cover ongoing maintenance costs and planned long-term improvements.

Investment is needed to allow Amtrak to develop its vision for high-speed services on the line, which runs down the country’s east coast, connecting Boston with Washington.

Boardman said: “There is insufficient NEC infrastructure investment to meet both the on-going normalized replacement and the backlog capital requirements. And that means we are eating our assets alive.”

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  1. cI was at this hearing in NYC at the monumental post office building that is being rebuilt to replace part of the adjacent Pennsylvania Station that was lost when they decapitated it in the 1960s. The Drexel University President was there to testify how true HS trains need to come TO the monumental Pennsylvania RR Station in Philadelphia at 30th St (not via it actually turns out slower and of course much more expensive deep tunnel and station proposed to the old side of downtown by Independence Hall) was required to economically justify expanding their ramping up Center City high rise development around the station to also go over the some 110 acres of the station yards with an international research/business hub. But with Amtrak ridership surging year and after year all across the country and the need for High Speed lines on many of the corridors we were told that the Chairman of the US House committee from upstate Pa and some of his supporters want to cut out most of the national carriers lines and just focus on the corridors even as they lambasted the second HS one in California we could get at this point for not being as good as the NorthEast Corridor which everyone agreed needed expansion. But such a limited position misses many points. Yes nearly all Amtrak except the NEC loses money just like the airlines and highways all would if they had to fully justify their rights of way, Long Distance trains are bulging at the seems too–their biggest problem for more growth into a more important role is that they generally run once a day and half the time show up in the middle of the night. All lines should run daily and all of the daily trains should have a second oppositely scheduled frequency as a minimum–this would spread costs etc and capture most of the existing market with all the new trains being near capacity again in only a few years anyway. We need LD trains in the system for connectivity of the corridors which is key to their efficiency and moving equipment for centralized repair etc, They are needed for the local and often only service they provide many communities and smaller cities–and not least for the votes in congress that provides. Some long distance lines make sense now as eventual HS lines and the easiest way to upgrade and build them is with existing services. China’s newest bullet line runs the equivalent of NYC to nearly Cuba in 7 hours. Yes you can fly faster between the end points but if that concerns you you really don’t understand all the cities, stations and services trains provide between the strongest terminals. In the US the NEC being extended via the high ridership areas in the old South to Atlanta makes sense for 220mph/350km services. The NEC to the Midwest-actually a bigger world ranked mega region then the NE and closer together then the much smaller S and N California markets also divided by mountains by the way where the Chair of this US committee is from if it follows the central Pennsylvania route, makes the most sense for the 2nd true HS line in the US that would also likely pay back its operating and maybe its building costs too And if we don’t build a number of Key HSR routes in this country we might have find in the end this maybe the single largest portion of the reason why we are slipping economically in the 21st Century

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