A high-speed passenger rail proposal that would shave more than two hours off train trips between New York and Boston got a boost Wednesday from Congress members from northeastern states.
More than 20 members of Congress from New York and New England sent a letter to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) calling for him to help establish a corporation to conduct preliminary engineering work on a high-speed railway between Penn Station and Boston.
The proposed route relies on upgraded tracks on Long Island and a new 16-mile tunnel beneath the Long Island Sound north of Ronkonkoma that would carry high-speed trains to Hartford and then east to Providence and Boston.
The North Atlantic Rail Corporation project would also rely on one of Amtrak’s East River rail tunnels, and may require further modernization to the Long Island Rail Road’s mainline tracks the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is working to expand.
Several other expanded regional routes in New York and New England are also included in the proposal.
Supporters of the proposal say trains along the path could reach to 225 mph, faster than the roughly 150 mph trains currently top out at along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.
The new route would shorten train trips between New York and Boston from roughly three hours and 50 minutes to one hour and 40 minutes, proponents say. The entire network would cost an estimated $105 billion to build.
The pitch would circumvent Amtrak’s current route between New York and Boston. Preservation groups and homeowners in Connecticut have for years battled federal plans to straighten the railroad’s route through the southern part of the state, which would speed up trips.
The congressional reps said DeFazio should push to establish the new corporation in the annual Surface Transportation Authorization bill so preliminary design and engineering on the rail project.
“With infrastructure talk happening in Washington every day, now is the time for a big, bold investment in a high-speed rail that will further economic prosperity in the Northeast for years to come,” said Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Long Island). “It’s on all of us in the Northeast to build a coalition and do all we can to make high-speed rail a reality.”