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® fleet – is expected to be introduced into revenue service in 2022. 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.

Next-Generation Acela Express Exterior

Next-Generation Acela Express Exterior

A Phased Approach

Insufficient infrastructure investment

Amtrak is moving forward improvements to the existing corridor.

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.

Next Steps

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

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 in 2022.

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.

Rendering of Conceptual Central Concourse as Envisioned in the 2012 Master Plan

The Washington Union Station Concourse Modernization Project will be the first project to come to life as part of the 2nd Century Plan.