NEC Vision

The Amtrak Vision for the Northeast Corridor

The Amtrak Vision for the Northeast CorridorRendering of high-speed train at Washington Union Station

In response to strong and continued demand for rail travel in the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak has developed a vision for Next Generation high-speed rail service on the NEC. The first of many phased improvements  the introduction of new high-speed trainsets that will supplement and ultimately replace the Acela Express® fleet  is expected to be introduced into revenue service in 2021. Full build out of the NextGen high-speed rail vision could be achieved in 2040. Developed in consultation with its international peers, Amtrak’s NextGen Vision proposes dramatic trip time reductions between major cities, more frequent trains, and new, dedicated infrastructure for high-speed trains, while upgrading and enhancing existing infrastructure for the 2,000 commuter trains, 140 Amtrak trains, and 60 freight trains that use the NEC each day. 

A Phased Approach

A Phased ApproachTrack work on the Portal Bridge.

Introducing NextGen high-speed rail service in 2040 will require an implementation strategy that addresses short term needs of existing infrastructure as well as long term investments. Amtrak has adopted a phased, “Stair-Step” approach to NEC improvements, including two progressive and overlapping programs: the NEC Upgrade Program (NEC-Up) to upgrade existing Northeast Corridor infrastructure and the NextGen High-Speed Rail Program, which addresses the long-term development of a dedicated, two-track, high-speed rail alignment.

Amtrak is already moving forward with improvements to the existing corridor, detailed in the Improvement Projects section of this website. Many of these improvements are in planning or under construction. Concurrently, Amtrak is participating in the NEC FUTURE process, a comprehensive planning study and environmental review process led by the Federal Railroad Administration to evaluate future investment options for the Northeast Corridor. All investments related to NextGen high-speed rail must await the outcome of the NEC FUTURE (expected in 2016) to ensure consistency with the comprehensive vision developed for the corridor through this public process.   

Next Steps

Next StepsRendering of the future Washington Union Station.

Amtrak is building the foundation for its Northeast Corridor Vision and NextGen high-speed rail with several Pathway Projects, which form the core of its near term investment strategy.  

A new equipment order for high-speed trainsets, in partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration, is intended to expand the Acela fleet in the near term and meet the long term operational needs of NextGen high-speed rail service in the future. The trainsets are planned to be introduced into revenue service by 2021 or earlier.

The Gateway Program is a set of infrastructure investments including a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River that will double train capacity at the Northeast Corridor’s greatest bottleneck between Newark, NJ and New York Penn Station and is essential to upgrading the NEC to allow for NextGen high-speed rail service. 

Washington Union Station's 2nd Century Project is developing a comprehensive vision for an expanded and improved Washington Union Station to accommodate a tripling in passengers in the next twenty years and accommodate NextGen high-speed rail service levels.

View Amtrak Vision Reports

  • A Vision for High-Speed Rail in the Northeast Corridor

    A Vision for High-Speed Rail in the Northeast Corridor  This 2010 Amtrak report lays out an ambitous vision for Next Generation high-speed rail...

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  • The Amtrak Vision for the Northeast Corridor - 2012 Update Report

    The Amtrak Vision for the Northeast Corridor - 2012 Update Report Integrates the 2010 Vision for High-Speed Rail with the NEC Infrastructure...

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View the Latest Partner Reports

  • NEC FUTURE Public Comment Flyer

    On November 10, the Federal Railroad Administration released a Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for NEC FUTURE, FRA's long-term...

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  • NEC Commission: The Northeast Corridor and the American Economy

    NEC Commission: The Northeast Corridor and the American Economy  A new report from the NEC Commission to Congress documents the economic value of...

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