Amtrak plans to move forward on key improvement projects in 2014, including continued installation of positive train control (PTC), the start of major construction to upgrade Northeast Corridor high-speed rail and expansion of station accessibility for passengers with disabilities.
“With limited federal capital funding we are doing the work that needs to be done to keep the railroad operating and taking action where we can to achieve safety, operational and passenger travel improvements,” said President and CEO Joe Boardman.
Amtrak is continuing its program to install PTC on an additional 1,200 track-miles beyond the approximately 530 track-miles where it is already in operation on some Amtrak-owned sections of the Northeast Corridor and all of its Michigan Line. Amtrak is also taking action to obtain needed radio spectrum to transmit data critical to make PTC operational in the new areas and is on target to meet a 2015 federal deadline.
This year, Amtrak is beginning major construction activities on a 23-mile section of the Northeast Corridor between Trenton and New Brunswick, N.J., to increase top train speeds to 160 mph from 135 mph and improve reliability along this heavily-used section. The project will upgrade track and various elements of the electrical and signal systems to support the higher speeds and reconfigure track switches at Penn Station New York to mitigate congestion issues.
Amtrak will also move forward in 2014 on other infrastructure projects including various planning elements of the Gateway Program to expand track, tunnel and station capacity between Newark, N.J., and Penn Station N.Y.; ongoing construction of a concrete casement through the Hudson Yards commercial development project to preserve a possible pathway for a future Hudson River Tunnel into Manhattan and design work for replacing major Northeast Corridor and century-old assets, such as the Susquehanna River Bridge (Md.), the Pelham Bay Bridge (N.Y.), the Connecticut River Bridge (Conn.) and the B&P Tunnel (Md.).
By the end of its 2014 maintenance program, Amtrak expects to install or replace nearly 165,000 crossties, 23 miles of rail and several dozen track switches, turnouts and interlockings. The railroad is also upgrading numerous sections of its electrical and signal systems along the Northeast and Keystone Corridors and performing various maintenance projects on property it owns in Chicago, New Orleans and elsewhere in the country.
Additionally, Amtrak will perform significant work as part of state-led projects to upgrade tracks and signal systems between Kalamazoo and Dearborn, Mich.; Poughkeepsie and Albany, N.Y., and New Haven, Conn., and Springfield, Mass.