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An Amtrak Acela Express trainset near Philadelphia.
|Termini||Boston South Station
Washington, D.C Union Station
|Opened||Stages between 1830s-1917|
|No. of tracks||2+|
|Track gauge||Standard gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)|
|Operating speed||Up to 150 mph (240 km/h)
up to 135 mph (217 km/h)
The Northeast Corridor (commonly abbreviated as the NEC) is a fully electrified railway line owned primarily by Amtrak serving the Northeast megalopolis of the United States from Boston in the north, via New York to Washington, D.C. in the south, with branches serving other cities. The line is used by the Acela Express and the Northeast Regional between New York and Washington plus other Amtrak routes in addition to commuter rail services and freight rail transport.
The NEC, which closely parallels Interstate 95 for most of its length, is the busiest passenger rail line in the United States by ridership and service frequency. The Acela Express, which entered service in 2000, is the only true high speed rail in North America and operates at speeds up to 150 mph (241 km/h), taking 2 hours 48 minutes between New York and Washington; for the rest of the route, however, speed is limited to 135 mph (217 km/h). Plans have been prepared for a $117-billion (2010 dollars) project to reduce the Boston-Washington time to 180 minutes, New York–Washington time to 96 minutes and Boston–New York to 84 minutes.
With primarily passenger services, the Northeast Corridor is a cooperative venture between Amtrak and various state agencies. Amtrak owns the track between Washington and New Rochelle, New York, a northern suburb of New York City. The segment from New Rochelle to New Haven is owned by the states of New York and Connecticut; Metro-North Railroad commuter trains operate on this segment. North of New Haven, ownership again reverts to Amtrak, whose tracks stretch to the border between Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The final segment from the border north to Boston is owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Under Amtrak's ownership, the Northeast Corridor suffered from several high-profile electric-power failures in 2006 and other infrastructure problems. Intermittent power outages caused delays of up to five hours for Amtrak and commuter trains. Railroad officials have blamed Amtrak's funding woes for the deterioration of the track and power supply infrastructure, which in places is almost a hundred years old. These problems have decreased during recent years due to the implementation of many projects to repair bridges and tracks and upgrade power systems.
There are only eleven grade crossings on the NEC, all in southeastern New London County, Connecticut, to the north of New York. Except for three grade crossings in New London, Connecticut (which are in close proximity to the station), all crossings feature four-quadrant gates without exit gate delays as well as induction loops to alert Amtrak personnel about trapped vehicles.
The current Northeast Corridor was built by a number of different companies between 1830s and 1917. The route was later owned by two companies: the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad (NYNH&H) owned the section from Boston to New York (formerly known as the "Boston & New Haven Main Line" or "Shore Line"), and the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) owned the section from New York to Washington (formerly known as the "Philadelphia-to-Washington Main Line").
From Boston to New York:
A short section in New York was owned jointly by the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad and the Pennsylvania Railroad:
The New York to Washington section:
The New York Central began planning for electrification between Grand Central Terminal and the split at Mott Haven following the opening of the first electrified urban rail terminal in 1900, the Gare d'Orsay in Paris, France. Electricity was already in use on various branch lines of the NYNH&H for interurban streetcars via third rail or trolley wire. A further incentive was provided when an accident killed 17 people on January 8, 1902, which was blamed on low visibility caused by the air pollution of steam locomotives. The resulting public outcry led to a push for electric operation in Manhattan.
The first section was the Park Avenue Tunnel of the New York and Harlem Railroad, part of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad (NYC) to its Grand Central Terminal in New York, and also used by the NYNH&H via trackage rights.
The NYNH&H announced in 1905 that it would electrify its main line from New York to Stamford, Connecticut. Along with the construction of the new Grand Central Terminal, opened in 1912, the NYC electrified its lines, beginning on December 11, 1906 with suburban multiple unit service to High Bridge on the Hudson Line. Electric locomotives began serving Grand Central February 13, 1907, and all NYC passenger service into Grand Central was electrified July 1. NYNH&H electrification began July 24 to New Rochelle, August 5 to Port Chester and October 6, 1907 the rest of the way to Stamford. Steam trains last operated into Grand Central on June 30, 1908, after which all NYNH&H passenger trains into Manhattan were electrified. On June 22, 1914 the NYNH&H electrification was extended to New Haven, which was the terminus of electrified service for over 80 years.
At the same time the PRR was building its Pennsylvania Station and electrified approaches, served by the PRR's lines in New Jersey and the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). LIRR electric service began in 1905 on the Atlantic Branch from downtown Brooklyn past Jamaica, and in June 1910 on the branch to Long Island City, part of the main line to Penn Station. Penn Station opened September 8, 1910 for LIRR trains and November 27 for the PRR; trains of both railroads were powered by DC electricity from a third rail. PRR trains changed engines (electric to/from steam) at Manhattan Transfer; passengers could also transfer there to H&M trains to downtown Manhattan.
On July 29, 1911 the NYNH&H began electric service on its Harlem River Branch, a suburban branch that would become a main line with the completion of the New York Connecting Railroad and its Hell Gate Bridge. The bridge opened on April 1, 1917, but was operated by steam with an engine change at Sunnyside Yard east of Penn Station until 1918.
Electrification of the portion north of New Haven to Providence and Boston had been planned by the NYNH&H, and authorized by the company's board of directors shortly before the U.S. entered World War I. This plan was not carried out because of the war and the company's financial problems.
In 1905 Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) announced that it would electrify its suburban lines at Philadelphia; eventually the 11-kV 25-Hz AC catenary was extended all the way between New York and Washington. Electric service began September 11, 1915 with multiple unit trains west to Paoli on the PRR Main Line (now the Keystone Corridor). Electric service to Chestnut Hill (now the Chestnut Hill West Line), including a stretch of the NEC, began March 30, 1918. Local electric service to Wilmington, Delaware on the NEC began September 30, 1928, and the other way to Trenton, New Jersey on June 29, 1930.
The first electrified service between Exchange Place, the Jersey City terminal, and New Brunswick, New Jersey began on December 8, 1932, including the extension of Penn Station electric service from Manhattan Transfer. On January 16, 1933, the rest of the electrification, between New Brunswick and Trenton, opened, giving a fully electrified intercity line between New York and Philadelphia, and beyond to Wilmington. Through trains to Washington began running under electricity to Wilmington February 12, with the engine change moved from Manhattan Transfer to Wilmington. The same was done on April 9 for trains running west from Philadelphia, with the change point moved to Paoli.
In 1933, the electrification south of Wilmington was stalled by the Great Depression, but the PRR managed to get a loan from the federal government to resume work the next year. The tunnels at Baltimore were rebuilt, and electric revenue service between New York and Washington began February 10, 1935. On April 7 the electrification of all New York–Washington passenger trains was complete, with 639 daily trains, 191 locomotive-hauled and the other 448 multiple-unit. New York–Washington electric freight service began May 20 with the electrification of freight lines in New Jersey and Washington. Extensions to Potomac Yard across the Potomac River from Washington, as well as several freight branches along the way, were electrified in 1937 and 1938. The Potomac Yard electrification remained until 1981.
The UAC Turbotrain set the speed record for a production train at 170.8 miles per hour (274.8 kilometers per hour) on the Northeast Corridor between New Brunswick, New Jersey and Trenton, New Jersey in December 1967 shortly before Pennsylvania Railroad merged with its former rival, the New York Central Railroad in 1969 to form Penn Central Transportation. This new company then absorbed the NYNH&H in 1969, bringing the whole Washington-Boston corridor under control of one company.
Despite the joining of the New York Connecting Railroad and Hell Gate Bridge segments, the two were operated almost entirely independently of each other until the merger of the PRR and NYNH&H into Penn Central Transportation in 1968 and 1969 respectively, and the establishment of Amtrak in 1971. On September 21, 1970 all New York–Boston trains except the Turboservice were rerouted into Penn Station from Grand Central, and the Turboservice was moved February 1, 1971.
The State of New York bought and the State of Connecticut leased their sections of the New Haven Line, between Woodlawn, New York and New Haven, Connecticut, from Penn Central in January 1971, which was subsequently operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. In the same month, the State of Massachusetts bought the Attleboro/Stoughton Line in Massachusetts, which was subsequently operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.^
The Regional Rail Reorganization Act of 1973 provided for Amtrak to purchase any remaining trackage for the corridor which passed to Amtrak in April 1976 with the formation of Conrail except for the section between New Haven and the Rhode Island/Massachusetts state line, which were sold to the Providence and Worcester Railroad; those rights remained until the 1999 breakup of Conrail, when they were split between the Norfolk Southern Railway to the south and CSX Transportation to the north.[ambiguous]
Conrail, another government corporation, was formed in 1976 to take over the now-bankrupt Penn Central Transportation, and sections of the line that had not already been sold to state commuter transportation authorities were sold to Amtrak. The purchase of the Northeast Corridor by Amtrak was controversial at the time, and the Department of Transportation blocked the transaction and withheld purchase funds for several months until Amtrak granted it control over reconstruction of the corridor.
The Preliminary System Plan for Conrail, prepared in February 1975, proposed abandoning all freight on the Shore Line (NEC) between Groton, Connecticut and Hills Grove, Rhode Island. However, in March 1975, the U.S. Railway Association announced that it had re-evaluated the line segment and would be keeping it in operation. Amtrak now operates and maintains the portion in Massachusetts, but the line from New Haven to New Rochelle, New York is operated by the Metro-North Railroad; this has been a problem with establishment of high-speed service.
In 1976 Congress authorized the Northeast Corridor Improvement Project (NECIP) to begin a major overhaul and improvement of the system between Washington and Boston. The project included safety improvements, modernization of the signaling system by General Railway Signal and new Centralized Electrification and Traffic Control (CETC) control centers by Chrysler at Philadelphia, New York and Boston. It allowed more trains to run faster and closer together, and set the stage for later high-speed operation. NECIP also introduced the AEM-7 locomotive, which enabled lower travel times between cities, and it became the most successful engine on the Corridor. The NECIP set travel time goals of 2 hours and 30 minutes between Washington and New York, and 3 hours between Boston and New York. These goals were not met because of the low level of funding provided by the Reagan Administration and Congress in the 1980s.
A project for electrification between New Haven and Boston had been included in a bill signed by President Gerald Ford in 1976 but then stalled after 1980 because of opposition from the Reagan Administration.
All grade crossings on the line have been eliminated between New York and Washington since the mid-1980s. Eleven grade crossings remain in Connecticut.
The Northeast High Speed Rail Improvement Program (NHRIP), was implemented in the 1990s. In preparation for the new higher-speed Acela Express trains, Amtrak upgraded the portion of the Northeast Corridor north of New York; grade crossings were eliminated, some bridges were rebuilt, and some curves were modified. Beginning in 1996, the electrification was extended north along the 157-mile (253 km) section of track between New Haven and Boston with electric locomotives starting service on January 31, 2000. Concrete railroad ties replaced wood ties, and heavier continuous welded rail (CWR) was laid down.
Acela Express service began on December 11, 2000. Travel time between Boston and New York is about three and a half hours, while from New York to Washington DC, the ride takes about two hours and forty-five minutes.
In May 2011, a $294.7-million federal grant was awarded to address congestion at Harold Interlocking, the USA's busiest rail junction, next to Sunnyside Yard. The work will allow dedicated tracks to the New York Connecting Railroad right of way for Amtrak trains arriving from or bound for New England, thus avoiding NJT and LIRR traffic.    Financing for the project was jeopardized in July 2011 by the House of Representatives, which voted to divert the funding to unrelated projects.
||This article's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. (May 2012)|
In May 2011 the Federal Government awarded $450 million to increase top speeds on a 24-mile stretch of track in New Jersey (between New Brunswick and Trenton) from 135 to 160 mph. The project is designed to upgrade electrical power, signal systems and overhead catenary wires on a 24-mile section between New Brunswick and Trenton to improve reliability, increase speeds up to 160 mph (260 km/h), and support more frequent high-speed service. Funding for the project and others announced at the same time had not been "obligated" by Congress and may be diverted by a bill passed by the House of Representatives in July 2011.
Amtrak has applied for $15 million for the environmental impact studies and preliminary engineering design to examine replacement options for the more than 100-year-old, low-level movable rail bridge (just west of Pelham Bridge) over the Hutchinson River in The Bronx. The goal is for a new bridge to support expanded service and speeds up to 110 mph (177 km/h).
"A vision for High-Speed Rail on the Northeast corridor" is an aspirational proposal for new dedicated high-speed tracks between Washington, DC, and Boston, Massachusetts produced by Amtrak in October 2010. At a cost of approximately $117 billion (2010 dollars), it would allow speeds of 220 mph and reduce the travel time from New York to Washington, including a stop in Philadelphia, to 96 minutes, and the travel time from Boston to New York to 84 minutes.
The proposed alignment would closely follow the existing Northeast Corridor south of New York City with a number of different alignments to be studied north of New York City. One option would be through interior Connecticut paralleling Interstates 684, 84, and 90 (via Danbury, Waterbury, and Hartford); another would follow the existing shoreline route (paralleling Interstate 95); a third would route via Long Island, which would require the construction of the Long Island Sound link across Long Island Sound to Connecticut.
The Northeast Corridor consists of tracks between Boston, Springfield, Massachusetts, New York City and Washington D.C. with multiple trains per day. The Cardinal is a second train to/from Chicago through Washington D.C. along the Northeast Corridor on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. According to a 2003 study, Amtrak accounted for about 14% of all intercity trips between Northeast Corridor cities and its branches. The rest of these intercity trips are taken by airline, automobile, or bus. A 2011 study estimated that in 2010 Amtrak carried 6% of the Boston-Washington corridor traffic, compared to 80% for automobiles, 8-9% for intercity bus, and 5% for airlines.
Amtrak and other long-distance trains serving Northeast Corridor stations:
In addition to Amtrak, several commuter rail agencies operate passenger service using the Northeast Corridor tracks.
Freight service is provided on the Northeast Corridor by trackage rights. The Norfolk Southern Railway operates over the line south of Philadelphia, and CSX Transportation has rights from New York to New Haven and in Massachusetts. CSX also has rights between Landover, MD and Bowie, MD, where the CSX Landover Subdivision and Pope's Creek Subdivision, respectively, diverge from the NEC. Between Philadelphia and New York, Conrail, which formerly provided service on the whole line, still operates over the line, as a local switching and terminal company for both CSX and Norfolk Southern. (See Conrail Shared Assets Operations.) The Providence and Worcester Railroad operates local freight service from New Haven into Rhode Island and has incidental trackage rights from New Haven to New York.
All grade crossings between Washington and New York were eliminated by the 1980s, and the New York to New Haven line had long been completely grade-separated. In preparation for electrification, most crossings between New Haven and Boston were replaced with bridges and underpasses in the late 1990s.
There are eleven remaining grade crossings, all in southeastern Connecticut. From east to west, they are:
In September 2005, a southbound Acela Express crashed into a car at Miner Lane, killing a woman and her two grandchildren in the car. Although Amtrak claimed that the woman had driven underneath the gates, her family alleged that the crossing gates did not deploy properly.
|MA||228.7||Boston||South Station||AE NR LS||MBTA||MBTA Red Line, Old Colony Lines, Greenbush Line, Framingham/Worcester Line, Fairmount Line|
|227.6||Back Bay Station||AE NR LS||MBTA||MBTA Orange Line; split with Framingham/Worcester Line|
|226.5||Ruggles||MBTA||MBTA Orange Line|
|223.7||Forest Hills||MBTA||MBTA Orange Line; split with Needham Line|
|219.2||Readville||MBTA||MBTA Fairmount Line; split with Franklin Line. Northeast Corridor platforms only used in emergencies|
|217.3||Westwood||Route 128||AE NR||MBTA||Park and ride|
|213.9||Canton||Canton Junction||MBTA||Split with Stoughton branch|
|190.8||state line Massachusetts / Rhode Island|
|177.3||Warwick||T. F. Green Airport||MBTA|
|141.1||state line Rhode Island / Connecticut|
|122.9||New London||New London||AE NR||SLE|
|105.1||Old Saybrook||Old Saybrook||NR||SLE|
|72.9||Division Post – Metro-North Railroad / Amtrak|
|72.7||New Haven||State Street Station||MNR||SLE|
|72.3||Union Station||AE NR VT||MNR||SLE||Amtrak Shuttle|
|West Haven||West Haven||MNR||not yet open|
|59.0||Stratford||Stratford||MNR||MNRR Waterbury Branch|
|41.0||South Norwalk||MNR||MNRR Danbury Branch|
|33.1||Stamford||Stamford||AE NR VT||MNR||SLE||MNRR New Canaan Branch|
|26.1||state line Connecticut / New York|
|NY||25.7||Port Chester||Port Chester||MNR|
|16.6||New Rochelle||New Rochelle||NR||MNR||Metro-North to Grand Central|
|New York City||Sunnyside||LIRR||Not yet open|
|0.0||Penn Station||AE AD CD CL CS EAE ES KS LS ML NR PA PL SM SS VT||LIRR||NJT||LIRR: Trains to Long Island
NJT: Trains to New Jersey
NYCS: A C E trains at Eighth Avenue,
1 2 3 trains at Seventh Avenue
|1.2||state line New York / New Jersey|
|NJ||5.0||Secaucus||Secaucus Junction||NJT||NJT to Hoboken and northern New Jersey|
|6.0||Secaucus / Harrison||Portal Bridge||NJT||Active moveable bridge over Hackensack River|
|7.3||Harrison||Swift||NJT||Junction with NJT Kearny Connection to NJT Morris & Essex Line to Dover, Hackettstown & Gladstone and Montclair-Boonton Line to Montclair Heights, Dover and Hackettstown|
|8.5||Hudson||NJT||Former location of Manhattan Transfer; Current junction between NJT Waterfront Connection & AMT NEC Penn Main Line|
|8.8||Hudson Yard||NJT||Amtrak / NJT Yard|
|9.8||Newark||Dock||Active moveable bridge over Passaic River|
|10.0||Penn Station||AE CD CL CS KS NR PA PL SM SS VT||NJT||Newark City Subway, PATH|
|11.1||Cliff||Former Newark (South Street) station; consists of two crossovers that didn't fit at Hunter|
|11.7||Hunter||Junction for NJT Raritan Valley Line to High Bridge & Raritan; Conrail Lehigh Line|
|12.6||Newark Airport||KS NR||NJT||AirTrain|
|13.5||Lane||Junction for Conrail Greenville and Passaic & Harsimus Branches|
|15.4||Elizabeth (Broad Street)||NJT|
|16.1||South Elizabeth||Closed passenger station|
|20.1||Rahway||North Rahway||NJT||Closed passenger station|
|21.0||Union||Junction with NJT North Jersey Coast Line to Bay Head.|
|22.8||Woodbridge||Colonia||Closed passenger station|
|24.0||Iselin||Closed passenger station|
|24.6||Metropark||AE KS NR VT||NJT||Park and ride|
|32.7||New Brunswick||New Brunswick||KS NR||NJT|
|34.2||County||Junction Conrail Millstone Running Track|
|34.4||North Brunswick||Jersey Avenue||NJT||Park and ride|
|36.8||Adams||Closed passenger Station|
|39.9||South Brunswick||Deans||Closed passenger Station|
|42.4||Monmouth Junction||Closed passenger Station|
|42.6||Midway||Interlocking plant; junction with Conrail Jamesburg Branch|
|48.3||Princeton Junction||Nassau||Junction with NJT Princeton Branch.|
|48.4||Princeton Junction||KS NR||NJT||NJT Princeton Branch to Princeton|
|-||Hamilton Township (Mercer County)||Division Post – New Jersey / Philadelphia Divisions|
|55.8||Millham||closed Interlocking Plant|
|57.8||Trenton||Fair||Junction for Belvedere-Delaware Secondary Track; Former junction for Bordentown Secondary Track; (See NJT River Line); Current Amtrak Division Post New York and Philadelphia Divisions|
|58.1||Trenton||AE CD CL CS KS NR PA SM SS VT||SEPTA||NJT||NJT River Line to Camden|
|59.2||state line New Jersey / Pennsylvania|
|PA||59.6||Morrisville||Morrisville||Closed passenger station|
|59.7||Morris||Junction for Norfolk Southern Trenton Cut-off and Morrisville Yard|
|73.7||Cornwells Heights||Cornwells Heights||KS NR||SEPTA|
|82.8||Frankford Junction||Closed station; junction with Atlantic City Express Service and Atlantic City Line to Atlantic City|
|86.0||North Philadelphia||KS NR||SEPTA|
|ZOO Interlocking||Split with Keystone Corridor|
|1.5||30th Street Station||AE CD CL CS KS NR PA PL SM SS VT||SEPTA||NJT||New Jersey Transit Atlantic City Line, all SEPTA commuter rail lines
Market-Frankford Line, Subway-Surface Trolley Lines
|1.8||University City||SEPTA||SEPTA to Philadelphia International Airport, Elwyn, and Delaware|
|6.5||Sharon Hill||Curtis Park||SEPTA|
|9.7||Prospect Park||Prospect Park||SEPTA|
|10.4||Ridley Park||Ridley Park||SEPTA|
|13.4||Chester||Chester Transportation Center||SEPTA|
|Lamokin Street Station||SEPTA||Flag stop, closed in 2003|
|15.5||Highland Avenue Station||SEPTA|
|16.7||Marcus Hook||Marcus Hook||SEPTA|
|18.2||state line Pennsylvania / Delaware|
|26.8||Wilimington||Wilmington||AE CD CL CS NR PL SM SS VT||SEPTA|
|41.5||state line Delaware / Maryland|
|84.0||Middle River||Martin State Airport||MARC|
|95.7||Baltimore||Penn Station||AE CD CL CS NR PL SM SS VT||MARC||Maryland Transit Administration Light Rail|
|106.3||Linthicum||BWI Airport Rail Station||AE NR VT||MARC|
|120.5||Bowie||Bowie Interlocking||Wye junction with Pope's Creek Subdivision (CSX)|
|127.0||New Carrollton||New Carrollton||NR VT||MARC||Orange Line (Washington Metro), park and ride|
|128.8||Landover||Landover Interlocking||Junction with CSX Landover Subdivision|
|131.6||state line Maryland / District of Columbia|
|Washington||C Interlocking||Junction with CSX Capital Subdivision and Metropolitan Subdivision|
|0.0||Union Station||AE CPL CD CL CS NR PL SM SS VT||MARC||VRE||VRE commuter rail, Metro Red Line, Amtrak trains to Virginia, Chicago, New Orleans, Miami, MARC commuter Rail|
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