Northeast Corridor

This article is about the Amtrak main line. For the New Jersey Transit service, see Northeast Corridor Line. For the agglomeration of metropolitan areas, see Northeast megalopolis.
Northeast Corridor

Type High-speed rail
Higher-speed rail
Inter-city rail
Commuter rail
System Amtrak
CSX Transportation
Norfolk Southern Railway
Providence and Worcester Railroad
Status Operational
Locale Northeastern megalopolis
Termini Boston South Station
Washington, D.C Union Station
Stations 108 (30 Amtrak stations, 78 commuter-rail-only stations)
Ridership 11,396,006 (total, FY2013)[1]
Opened 1834 (first section)
1917 (final section)
Owner Massachusetts (Boston - MA/RI border)
Amtrak (MA/RI border - New Haven)
Connecticut Department of Transportation (New Haven - CT/NY border)
Metro-North Railroad (CT/NY border - New Rochelle)
Amtrak (New Rochelle - Washington)
Operator(s) Amtrak
Line length 453.3 mi (729.5 km)
Number of tracks 2-6
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification Overhead catenary
25 kV at 60 Hz (Boston to Mill River)
12.5 kV at 60 Hz (Mill River to Sunnyside Yard)
12 kV at 25 Hz (Sunnyside to Washington D.C.)
Operating speed 150 mph (240 km/h) (Acela)
125 mph (201 km/h) (other)
Route map
Sections owned by Amtrak are in red; sections with commuter service are highlighted in blue.

The Northeast Corridor (NEC) is an electrified railway line in the Northeast megalopolis of the United States. Owned primarily by Amtrak, it runs from Boston through New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore to Washington, D.C.. The NEC closely parallels Interstate 95 for most of its length, and is the busiest passenger rail line in the United States by ridership and service frequency as of 2013.[1][2] Branches to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Springfield, Massachusetts, though not considered part of the Northeast Corridor, see frequent service from routes that run largely on the corridor.

The corridor is used by many Amtrak trains, including the high-speed Acela Express, intercity trains, and several long-distance trains. Most of the corridor also has frequent commuter rail service, operated by the MBTA, Shore Line East, Metro-North Railroad, New Jersey Transit, SEPTA, and MARC. Several companies run freight trains over sections of the NEC.

Much of the line is built for speeds higher than the 79 mph (127 km/h) allowed on many U.S. tracks. Amtrak can operate intercity Northeast Regional and Keystone Service trains at up to 125 mph (201 km/h), as well as North America's only high-speed train, the Acela Express, which runs up to 150 mph (241 km/h) on several sections in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Acela covers the 225 miles (362 km) between New York and Washington, D.C., in under 3 hours, and the 229 miles (369 km) between New York and Boston in under 3.5 hours.[3][4] Under Amtrak's $151 billion Northeast Corridor plan, which hopes to roughly halve travel times by 2040, trips between New York and Washington would take 94 minutes.[5][6]



Northeast Corridor

Boston South Station
Greenbush Line, Old Colony Lines,
and Fairmount Line
Inland Route
Boston Back Bay
Boston to Route 128
Forest Hills
Hyde Park

Readville Franklin Line and Fairmount Line
Route 128
Route 128 to Providence
Canton Junction
Stoughton Branch
Framingham Secondary
Middleboro Subdivision
East Junction Branch
South Attleboro
East Providence Branch
RI/MA border
Providence and Worcester Railroad
Providence to New London
T.F. Green Airport
Seaview Railroad
Wickford Junction
CT/RI border
Groton Wharf Branch
Norwich and Worcester
New England Central Railroad
New London Union Station
New London to New Haven
Valley Railroad
Old Saybrook
Branford Steam Railroad
Air Line
New Haven–Springfield Line
New Haven State Street
New Haven Union Station
New Haven to Stamford
Waterbury Branch
Fairfield Metro
Green's Farms
East Norwalk
Danbury Branch
South Norwalk
Noroton Heights
New Canaan Branch
Stamford to New York
Old Greenwich
Cos Cob
NY/CT border
Port Chester
New Rochelle
New Haven Line
Oak Point Link
New York Connecting Railroad
LIRR Main Line
Lower Montauk Branch
LIRR Main Line
New York Penn Station
New York to Newark
Empire Corridor
NJ/NY border
CSX River Subdivision

Secaucus Junction
Waterfront Connection
Kearny Connection
Newark Penn Station
Newark to Metropark
Raritan Valley Line/Lehigh Line
Newark Airport
North Elizabeth
Staten Island Railway
Linden Industrial Track
North Jersey Coast Line
Metropark to Trenton
Port Reading Railroad
New Brunswick
Millstone Branch
Jersey Avenue
Jamesburg Branch
Princeton Junction
Princeton Branch
Trenton to Philadelphia
PA/NJ border
Trenton Cutoff / NJT Morrisville Yard
Fairless Branch
Cornwells Heights
Bustleton Branch
Holmesburg Junction
Atlantic City Line

North Philadelphia
SEPTA Reading Division lines
Chestnut Hill West Line
Keystone Corridor / Paoli/Thorndale Line
Zoo Junction

Philadelphia 30th Street
Philadelphia to Wilmington
Media/Elwyn Line
Philadelphia Subdivision
Airport Line
Curtis Park
Sharon Hill
Prospect Park
Ridley Park
Crum Lynne
Chester Transportation Center
Highland Avenue
Chester Secondary
Marcus Hook
DE/PA border
Shellpot Branch
Wilmington to Baltimore
Philadelphia Subdivision
Shellpot Branch
Churchmans Crossing
Delmarva Secondary
MD/DE border

Perryville  Port Road Branch
Martin State Airport
Port of Baltimore
Baltimore Penn Station
Baltimore to Washington
West Baltimore
Camden Line
BWI Airport
Bowie State
Pope's Creek Subdivision
New Carrollton
Landover Subdivision / Alexandria Extension
D.C./MD border
Camden Line
Brunswick Line
Washington Union Station
RF&P Subdivision
Map of Northeast Corridor, showing different milepost designations along the route

The Northeast Corridor was built by several railroads between the 1830s and 1917. The route was later consolidated under two railroads: the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad (NYNH&H) between Boston and New York, and the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) between New York and Washington.

Boston-New York

New York-Washington, D.C.

Electrification, 1905–38

New York section

The New York Central Railroad (NYC) began planning electrification between Grand Central Terminal and the split at Mott Haven after the opening of the first electrified urban rail terminal in 1900, the Gare d'Orsay in Paris, France. Electricity was in use on some branch lines of the NYNH&H for interurban streetcars via third rail or trolley wire. An accident in the Park Avenue Tunnel near Grand Central Station that killed 17 people on January 8, 1902 was blamed on smoke from steam locomotives; the resulting outcry led to a push for electric operation in Manhattan.[13][14][15]

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 NH via trackage rights.

The NH 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 on February 13, 1907, and all NYC passenger service into Grand Central was electrified on July 1. NH electrification began on 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 NH passenger trains into Manhattan were electrified. In June 1914, the NH electrification was extended to New Haven, which was the terminus of electrified service for over 80 years.[16]

At the same time, the PRR was building its Pennsylvania Station and electrified approaches, which were 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, NH 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 NH, and authorized by the company's board of directors shortly before the United States entered World War I. This plan was not carried out because of the war and the company's financial problems.

New York to Washington electrification

"K" Tower, north of Washington Union Station, is the only remaining interlocking tower on the Northeast Corridor south of Philadelphia

In 1905, the PRR began to electrify its suburban lines at Philadelphia, an effort that eventually led to 11kV, 25Hz AC catenary from New York and Washington. Electric service began in September 1915, with multiple unit trains west to Paoli on the PRR Main Line (now the Keystone Corridor).[17] 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 to Trenton, New Jersey, on June 29, 1930.

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 line between New York and Wilmington. Trains to Washington began running under electricity to Wilmington on 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 got a loan from Public Works Administration to resume work.[18] The tunnels at Baltimore were rebuilt, and electric service between New York and Washington began February 10, 1935. On April 7, the electrification of passenger trains was complete, with 639 daily trains: 191 hauled by locomotives and the other 448 under multiple-unit power. New York-Washington electric freight service began May 20 after 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 retained its electrification until 1981.


In the 1930s, PRR equipped the New York-Washington line with Pulse code cab signaling. Between 1998 and 2003, this system was overlaid with an Alstom Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System (ACSES), using track-mounted transponders similar to the Balises of the modern European Train Control System.[19] The ACSES will enable Amtrak to implement positive train control to comply with the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

Founding and operation of Amtrak

Reorganization and bankruptcy

The Congressional, a Pennsylvania Railroad train, after it leaves the Hudson River Tunnels on its way to Washington, DC., 1968

In December 1967, the UAC Turbotrain set a speed record for a production train: 170.8 miles per hour (274.8 kilometers per hour) between New Brunswick and Trenton, New Jersey.[20]

In February 1968, PRR merged with its former rival New York Central Railroad to form the Penn Central (PC). Penn Central was required to absorb the New Haven in 1969 as a condition of the merger, which brought the entire Washington-Boston corridor under the control of a single company.

On September 21, 1970, all New York-Boston trains except the Turboservice were rerouted into Penn Station from Grand Central; the Turboservice was moved on February 1, 1971 for cross-platform transfers to the Metroliners.[21]

In 1971, Amtrak began operations. As well, various state governments took control of portions of the NEC for their commuter transportation authorities. In January, the State of Massachusetts bought the Attleboro/Stoughton Line in Massachusetts, later operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. The same month, the New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority bought and Connecticut leased from Penn Central their sections of the New Haven Line, between Woodlawn, Bronx, New York and New Haven, Connecticut.[21]

In 1973, the Regional Rail Reorganization Act opened the way for Amtrak to buy sections of the NEC not already been sold to these commuter transportation authorities. These purchases by Amtrak were 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.[22]

In February 1975, the Preliminary System Plan for Conrail proposed to stop running freight trains on the NEC between Groton, Connecticut, and Hillsgrove, Rhode Island, but this clause was rejected the following month by the U.S. Railway Association.[23]

By April 1976, Amtrak owned the entire NEC 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. Amtrak still 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, which has hindered the establishment of high-speed service.

Northeast Corridor Improvement Project

Northeast Corridor Improvement Project track work in April 1979

In 1976, Congress authorized an overhaul of the system between Washington and Boston.[24] Called the Northeast Corridor Improvement Project (NECIP), it 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 lowered travel times between cities and became the most successful engine on the Corridor. The NECIP set travel time goals of 2 hours and 40 minutes between Washington and New York, and 3 hours and 40 minutes between Boston and New York.[25] These goals were not met because of the low level of funding provided by the Reagan Administration and Congress in the 1980s.[26]

A project for electrification between New Haven and Boston was included in the 1976 Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act[24] but it stalled after 1980 because of opposition from the Reagan Administration.[27]

All grade crossings on the line have been eliminated between New York and Washington since the mid-1980s. Eleven grade crossings remain in Connecticut.

1990s implementation of high-speed rail

Amtrak Acela Express crosses the Susquehanna River in Maryland on a bridge built by the PRR in 1906.

In the 1990s, Amtrak upgraded the NEC north of New York to ready it for the higher-speed Acela Express trains.[26] Dubbed the Northeast High Speed Rail Improvement Program (NHRIP), the effort eliminated grade crossings, rebuilt some bridges, and modified some curves. Concrete railroad ties replaced wood ties, and heavier continuous welded rail (CWR) was laid down.

In 1996, Amtrak began installing electrification gear along the 157 miles (253 kilometres) of track between New Haven and Boston. The infrastructure included a new overhead catenary wire made of high-strength silver-bearing copper, specified by Amtrak and later patented by Phelps Dodge Specialty Copper Products of Elizabeth, New Jersey.[28]


Service with electric locomotives between New Haven and Boston began in January 2000. The project took four years and cost close to $2.3 billion: $1.3 billion for the infrastructure improvements, and close to $1 billion for both the new Acela Express trainsets and the Bombardier–Alstom HHP-8 locomotives.[29]

On December 11, 2000, Amtrak began operating its higher-speed Acela Express service. Travel time by Acela is about three and a half hours between Boston and New York, and two hours and forty-five minutes between New York and Washington, D.C.

In 2005, there was talk in Congress of splitting the Northeast Corridor, which was opposed by then acting Amtrak president David Gunn. The plan, supported by the Bush administration, would "turn over the Northeast Corridor - the tracks from Washington to Boston that are the railroad's main physical asset - to a federal-state consortium."[30]

NTSB officials inspect the derailed locomotive 601

Eleven minutes after leaving 30th Street Station in Philadelphia on May 12, 2015, a year-old ACS-64 locomotive (#601) and all seven Amfleet I coaches of Amtrak's northbound Northeast Regional (TR#188) derailed at 9:21pm at Frankford Junction (Shore Tower) in the Port Richmond section of the city while entering a 50 mph speed limited (but at the time non-ATC protected) curve at 106 mph killing eight and injuring more than 200 (eight critically) of the 238 passengers and five crew on board as well as causing the suspension of all Philadelphia-New York NEC service for six days.[31][32][33][34]

This was the deadliest crash on the Northeast Corridor since 16 died when Amtrak's Washington-to-Boston Colonial (TR#94) rear-ended three stationary Conrail locomotives at Gunpow Interlocking near Baltimore on January 4, 1987.[35] Frankford Junction curve was the site of a previous fatal accident on September 6, 1943 when an extra section of the PRR's Washington to New York Congressional Limited derailed there killing 79 and injuring 117 of the 541 on board.[36]


The NEC 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 there. Amtrak owns the tracks north of New Haven to the border between Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The final segment from the border north to Boston is owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.


Constant-tension catenary on Amtrak's 60Hz system

At just over 453 miles (729 km), the Northeast Corridor is the longest electrified rail corridor in the United States. Most electrified railways in the country are for rapid transit or commuter rail use; the Keystone Corridor is the only other electrified intercity mainline.

Currently, the corridor uses three catenary systems. From Washington, D.C., to Sunnyside Yard (just east of New York Penn Station), Amtrak's 25Hz traction power system (originally built by the Pennsylvania Railroad) supplies 12 kV at 25 Hz. From Sunnyside to Mill River (just east of New Haven), the former New Haven Railroad's system, since modified by Metro-North, supplies 12.5 kV at 60 Hz. From Mill River to Boston, the much newer 60Hz traction power system supplies 25 kV at 60 Hz. All of Amtrak's electric locomotives can switch between these systems at speed.

In addition to catenary, the East River Tunnels have 750 V DC third rail for Long Island Rail Road trains, and the North River Tunnels have third rail for emergency use only.

In 2006, several high-profile electric-power failures delayed Amtrak and commuter trains on the Northeast Corridor up to five hours.[37] Railroad officials blamed Amtrak's funding woes for the deterioration of the track and power supply system, which in places is almost a hundred years old. These problems have decreased in recent years after tracks and power systems were repaired and improved.[38][39]

In September 2013, one of two feeder lines supplying power to the New Haven Line failed, while the other feeder was disabled for service. The lack of electrical power disrupted trains on Amtrak and Metro-North Railroad, which share the segment in New York State.[40]


There are 109 active stations on the Northeast Corridor; all but three (Kingston, Westerly, and Mystic) see commuter service, and 30 are used by Amtrak as well. Amtrak owns Pennsylvania Station in New York, 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Station in Baltimore, and Union Station in Washington.

The following is a list of active Amtrak and commuter rail stations, plus two interlockings where milepost numbering is reset. (For a full accounting of past and present stations plus interlockings, bridges, and tunnels, see List of Northeast Corridor infrastructure.)


Station Listing
State Miles City Station Amtrak Other Connections
MA228.7BostonSouth StationAE NR LSMBTAMBTA Red Line, Old Colony Lines, Greenbush Line, Framingham/Worcester Line, Fairmount Line
227.6Back Bay StationAE NR LSMBTAMBTA Orange Line; split with Framingham/Worcester Line
226.5RugglesMBTAMBTA Orange Line
223.7Forest HillsMBTAMBTA Orange Line; split with Needham Line
220.6Hyde ParkMBTA
219.2ReadvilleMBTAMBTA Fairmount Line; split with Franklin Line. NEC platforms only used in emergencies
217.3WestwoodRoute 128AE NRMBTAPark and ride
213.9CantonCanton JunctionMBTASplit with Stoughton branch
191.9South AttleboroMBTA
190.8state line Massachusetts / Rhode Island
RI185.1ProvidenceProvidenceAE NRMBTA
177.3WarwickT. F. Green AirportMBTA
165.8Wickford (North Kingstown)Wickford JunctionMBTA
158.1West Kingston (South Kingstown)KingstonNR
141.1state line Rhode Island / Connecticut
122.9New LondonNew LondonAE NRSLE
105.1Old SaybrookOld SaybrookNRSLE
72.9Division Post – Metro-North Railroad / Amtrak
72.7New HavenState Street StationMNRSLE
72.3Union StationAE NR VTMNRSLEAmtrak Shuttle
69.4West HavenWest HavenMNRSLE
59.0StratfordStratfordMNRSLEMNRR Waterbury Branch
55.4BridgeportBridgeportNR VTMNRSLE
52.3FairfieldFairfield MetroMNR
47.2WestportGreen's FarmsMNR
42.1NorwalkEast NorwalkMNR
41.0South NorwalkMNRMNRR Danbury Branch
36.2Noroton HeightsMNR
33.1StamfordStamfordAE NR VTMNRSLEMNRR New Canaan Branch
31.3GreenwichOld GreenwichMNR
29.6Cos CobMNR
26.1state line Connecticut / New York
NY25.7Port ChesterPort ChesterMNR
16.6New RochelleNew RochelleNRMNRMetro-North to Grand Central
3.2New York CitySunnysideLIRRNot yet open
NJT: Trains to New Jersey
NYCS: A C E trains at Eighth Avenue,
1 2 3 trains at Seventh Avenue
1.2state line New York / New Jersey
NJ5.0SecaucusSecaucus JunctionNJTNJT to Hoboken and northern New Jersey
10.0NewarkPenn StationAE CD CL CS KS NR PA PL SM SS VTNJTNewark City Subway, PATH
12.6Newark AirportKS NRNJTAirTrain
14.4ElizabethNorth ElizabethNJT
15.4Elizabeth (Broad Street)NJT
24.6WoodbridgeMetroparkAE KS NR VTNJTPark and ride
32.7New BrunswickNew BrunswickKS NRNJT
34.4New BrunswickJersey AvenueNJTPark and ride
48.8Princeton JunctionPrinceton JunctionKS NRNJTNJT Princeton Branch to Princeton
54.4Hamilton TownshipHamiltonNJT
58.1TrentonTrentonAE CD CL CS KS NR PA SM SS VTSEPTANJT NJT River Line to Camden
59.2state line New Jersey / Pennsylvania
70.7Bristol TownshipCroydonSEPTA
73.7Cornwells HeightsCornwells HeightsKS NRSEPTA
78.3Holmesburg JunctionSEPTA
86.0North PhiladelphiaKS NRSEPTA
ZOO InterlockingSplit with Philadelphia to Harrisburg Main Line
1.530th Street StationAE CD CL CS KS NR PA PL SM SS VTSEPTANJT New Jersey Transit Atlantic City Line, all SEPTA commuter rail lines
Market-Frankford Line, Subway-Surface Trolley Lines
6.5Sharon HillCurtis ParkSEPTA
7.2Sharon HillSEPTA
9.7Prospect ParkProspect ParkSEPTA
10.4Ridley ParkRidley ParkSEPTA
11.1Crum LynneSEPTA
13.4ChesterChester Transportation CenterSEPTA
15.5Highland Avenue StationSEPTA
16.7Marcus HookMarcus HookSEPTA
18.2state line Pennsylvania / Delaware
26.8WilimingtonWilmingtonAE CD CL CS NR PL SM SS VTSEPTA
32.5Churchmans CrossingSEPTA
41.5state line Delaware / Maryland
84.0Middle RiverMartin State AirportMARC
95.7BaltimorePenn StationAE CD CL CS NR PL SM SS VTMARCMaryland Transit Administration Light Rail
98.5West BaltimoreMARC
106.3LinthicumBWI Airport Rail StationAE NR VTMARC
119.4BowieBowie StateMARC
127.0New CarrolltonNew CarrolltonNR VTMARCOrange Line (Washington Metro), park and ride
131.6state line Maryland / District of Columbia
WashingtonC InterlockingJunction with CSX Capital Subdivision and Metropolitan Subdivision
0.0Union StationAE CPL CD CL CS NR PL SM SS VTMARCVREVRE commuter rail, Metro Red Line, Amtrak trains to Virginia, Chicago, New Orleans, Miami, MARC commuter Rail

Grade crossings

Passengers crossing the State Street crossing in New London after departing a northbound train
A Northeast Regional train crosses Miner Lane in Waterford, the site of a fatal accident in 2005

The entire Northeast Corridor has just 11 grade crossings, all in southeastern New London County, Connecticut. The remaining grade crossings are along a part of the line that hugs the shore of Fishers Island Sound. Without these crossings many waterfront communities and businesses would be inaccessible from land. Except for three grade crossings near New London Union Station, all have four-quadrant gates with induction loop sensors, which allow vehicles stopped on the tracks to be detected in time for an oncoming train to stop.

FRA rules limit track speeds on the corridor to 80 miles per hour (130 km/h) over conventional crossings and 95 miles per hour (153 km/h) over crossings with four-quadrant gates and vehicle detection tied into the signal system.[41]


The New York to New Haven line has long been completely grade-separated, and the last grade crossings between Washington and New York were eliminated in the 1980s. In 1994, during planning for electrification and high-speed Acela Express service between New Haven and Boston, a law was passed requiring USDOT to plan for the elimination of all remaining crossings (unless impractical or unnecessary) by 1997.[42] Some lightly used crossings were simply closed, while most were converted into bridges or underpasses. Only thirteen remained by 1999, of which lightly used crossings in Old Lyme, Connecticut and Exeter, Rhode Island were soon closed.[43]

Despite six nonfatal accidents in the previous sixteen years, there was substantial local opposition to closing the remaining 11 crossings. Outright closing the crossing would eliminate the sole access points to several of the places they served, while grade separation would have been expensive and required land takings.[43] Instead, the crossings were supplied with additional protections. In 1998, School Street in Groton was the first four-quadrant gate installation in the country with vehicle detection sensors tied into the line's signal system.[44] It cost $1 million rather than the $4 million for a bridge.[45] Seven more crossings received similar installations in 1999 and 2000; only the three in New London (which are on a tight curve with speed limits under 30 miles per hour (48 km/h)) did not.[46]

On September 28, 2005, a southbound Acela Express struck a car at Miner Lane in Waterford, Connecticut, the first such incident since the additional protections were implemented.[47] The train was approaching the crossing at approximately 70 miles per hour (110 km/h) when the car reportedly rolled under the lowered crossing gate arms too late for the sensor system to fully stop the train. The driver and one passenger were killed on impact; the other passenger died nine days later from injuries sustained in the crash. The gates were later inspected and declared to have been functioning properly at the time of the incident.[48] The incident drew public criticism about the remaining grade crossings along the busy line.[49]

Crossing list

Crossing are listed east to west.

Miles[50] City[50] Street[50] DOT/AAR number[50] Coordinates Details
140.6 Stonington Palmer Street 500263U 41°22′21″N 71°50′08″W / 41.372491°N 71.835678°W / 41.372491; -71.835678 Connects the Pawcatuck residential area to the Mechanic Street arterial.
136.7 Elihu Island Road 500267W 41°20′27″N 71°53′24″W / 41.340922°N 71.889912°W / 41.340922; -71.889912 Provides sole access to Elihu Island. Private crossing.
136.6 Walker's Dock 500269K 41°20′24″N 71°53′28″W / 41.340073°N 71.891184°W / 41.340073; -71.891184 Provides sole access to a small marina. Private crossing.
134.9 Wamphassuc Road 500272T 41°20′31″N 71°55′18″W / 41.342016°N 71.921605°W / 41.342016; -71.921605 Provides sole access to a residential area.
133.4 Latimer Point Road 500275N 41°20′29″N 71°56′56″W / 41.341312°N 71.948967°W / 41.341312; -71.948967 Provides sole access to a residential area.
132.3 Broadway Avenue Extension 500277C 41°21′03″N 71°57′50″W / 41.350813°N 71.963872°W / 41.350813; -71.963872 Next to Mystic station. Provides sole access to a residential and industrial area, several marinas, and the northbound platform.
131.2 Groton School Street 500278J 41°20′42″N 71°58′38″W / 41.344933°N 71.977092°W / 41.344933; -71.977092 Provides sole access to the Willow Point residential area and marina.
123.0 New London Ferry Street 500294T 41°21′25″N 72°05′41″W / 41.356984°N 72.094777°W / 41.356984; -72.094777 Provides sole access to Block Island Ferry and Cross Sound Ferry docks and other marine facilities. Does not have quad gates.
122.8 State Street 500295A 41°21′14″N 72°05′35″W / 41.353845°N 72.092991°W / 41.353845; -72.092991 Next to New London Union Station. Provides access to the Fisher's Island Ferry, City Pier, Waterfront Park, and the northbound platform.
122.5 Bank Street Connector 500297N 41°21′05″N 72°05′45″W / 41.35128°N 72.095957°W / 41.35128; -72.095957 Provides access to Waterfront Park.
120.2 Waterford Miner Lane 500307S 41°20′09″N 72°07′26″W / 41.335726°N 72.123845°W / 41.335726; -72.123845 Provides sole access to a residential and industrial area.

Passenger ridership

Annual passenger ridership
FY* Northeast Regional Acela Total ridership % Change
2004 6,475,000 2,569,000 9,044,000
2005 7,116,000 1,773,000 8,889,000 -1.7%
2006 6,755,000 2,583,000 9,338,000 +5.1%
2007 6,837,000 3,184,000 10,021,000 +7.3%
2008 7,489,000 3,399,000 10,888,000 +8.7%
2009 6,921,000 3,020,000 9,941,000 -8.7%
2010 7,149,000 3,219,000 10,368,000 +4.3%
2011 7,515,000 3,379,000 10,894,000 +5.1%
2012 8,014,000 3,395,000 11,409,000 +4.7%
2013 8,044,000 3,343,000 11,387,000 -0.2%
2014 8,083,000 3,545,000 11,628,000 +2.2%

Current rail service

Intercity passenger services

New Orleans-bound Crescent in Trenton, New Jersey

In 2003, Amtrak accounted for about 14% of intercity trips between the cities served by the NEC and its branches (the rest were taken by airline, automobile, or bus).[52] A 2011 study estimated that in 2010 Amtrak carried 6% of the Boston-Washington traffic, compared to 80% for automobiles, 8-9% for intercity bus, and 5% for airlines.[53] Amtrak's share of passenger traffic between New York City and Boston has grown from 20 percent to 54 percent since 2001, and 75 percent of public-transport travelers between New York City and Washington, D.C., go by train.[54]

These Amtrak trains serve NEC stations and run at least partially on the corridor:

Seven other trains terminate at NEC stations, but do not use any NEC infrastructure outside the terminus.

The New Haven-Springfield Shuttle: New Haven-Springfield, Massachusetts via the New Haven-Springfield branch line of the NEC that is owned by Amtrak.

Five Amtrak services operate via the Empire Corridor a line with two short sections owned by Amtrak and the line between Poughkeepsie and Schenectady is leased, operated, and maintained by Amtrak. It meets the NEC at New York Penn Station.

The Capitol Limited runs from Washington, D.C.-Chicago and uses NEC infrastructure at Washington Union Station.

Commuter rail

SEPTA commuter train on the NEC in Prospect Park, Pennsylvania

In addition to Amtrak, several commuter rail agencies operate passenger service using the NEC tracks:

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)

Shore Line East

Metro-North Railroad

Long Island Rail Road (LIRR)

New Jersey Transit (NJT)


MARC Train

Freight services

Freight trains operate on parts of the NEC through trackage rights. The Norfolk Southern Railway operates over the line south of Philadelphia. CSX Transportation has rights from New York to New Haven; in Massachusetts; and in Maryland from Landover, where its Landover Subdivision joins the NEC, and Bowie, where its Pope's Creek Subdivision leaves it. Between Philadelphia and New York, Conrail operates as a local switching and terminal company for 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 overhead trackage rights from New Haven to New York.[55] See also Rail freight transportation in New York City and Long Island.


As of 2013, the Federal Railroad Administration is drawing up a master plan for developing the corridor through 2040, taking into account various projects and proposals by various agency and advocacy groups. The plan is to be complete in spring 2015.[56] Much of the proposed improvements are unfunded.[57]

In 2013, Japanese officials pitched the country's maglev train technology, the world's fastest, for the Northeast Corridor to regional U.S. politicians. The trains could travel from New York to Washington in an hour.[58]

"A vision for High-Speed Rail"

In October 2010, Amtrak released "A vision for High-Speed Rail on the Northeast Corridor", an aspirational proposal for dedicated high-speed rail tracks between Washington, D.C., and Boston.[59] Projected to cost about $117 billion (2010 dollars), the project would allow speeds of 220 miles per hour (350 km/h), reducing travel time from New York to Washington to 96 minutes (including a stop in Philadelphia) and from Boston to New York to 84 minutes.[60][61]

The proposed alignment would closely follow the existing NEC south of New York City; north of the city, several different alignments would be studied. One option would parallel Interstates 684, 84, and 90 through Danbury, Waterbury, and Hartford, Connecticut; another would follow the existing shoreline route (paralleling Interstate 95); a third would run along Long Island and a new bridge or tunnel across Long Island Sound to Connecticut.

In 2012, Amtrak revised its cost estimate to $151 billion. The 438-mile (705 km) HSR route is planned to be completed by 2030 (Washington to New York) and by 2040 (New York to Boston).[5]

Gateway Project

In February 2011, Amtrak announced plans for the Gateway Project between Newark Penn Station and New York Penn Station.[62] The planned project would create a high-speed alignment across the New Jersey Meadowlands and under the Hudson River, including the replacement of the Portal Bridge, a bottleneck. It is projected to cost $14.5 billion and be completed in 2025.

Harold Interlocking

Main article: Harold Interlocking

In May 2011, a $294.7-million federal grant was awarded to fix congestion at Harold Interlocking, the USA's second-busiest rail junction after Sunnyside Yard. The work will lay tracks to the New York Connecting Railroad right of way, allowing Amtrak trains arriving from or bound for New England to avoid NJT and LIRR trains.[63][64] Financing for the project was jeopardized in July 2011 by the House of Representatives, which voted to divert the funding to unrelated projects.[65] The project is currently funded by FRA and the MTA.[66]

New Brunswick-Trenton high-speed upgrade

In August 2011, Congress obligated $450 million to a six-year project to add capacity on one of the busiest segments on the NEC in New Jersey.[67] The project is designed to upgrade electrical power, signal systems and catenary wires on a 24 miles (39 km) 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.[68][69][70]

Replacement of bridge over Hutchinson River

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 that has been limiting speed in addition to train capacity. The goal is for a new bridge to support expanded service and speeds up to 110 mph (177 km/h).[71]

New trains for Acela

Main article: Avelia Liberty

On August 26, 2016, Vice President Joe Biden announced a $2.45 billion federal loan package to pay for new Acela equipment, as well as upgrades to the NEC. The loans will finance 28 train-sets that will replace the existing fleet. The trains will be built by Alstom in Hornell and Rochester, New York. Passenger service using the new trains is expected to begin in 2021 and the current fleet is to be retired by the end of 2022 when all the replacements will have been delivered. Amtrak will pay off the loans from increased NEC passenger revenue.[72]

See also


  1. 1 2 "Amtrak Sets Ridership Record And Moves The Nation's Economy Forward - America's Railroad helps communities grow and prosper" (PDF) (Press release). Amtrak. October 14, 2013. Retrieved 2014-09-03.
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  3. "Amtrak fact sheet: Acela service" (PDF). National Association of Railroad Passengers. 2013. Retrieved May 6, 2016.
  4. Wolmar, Christian (2010-03-07). "High-Speed Rail Investment Should Focus on Acela". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-05-06.
  5. 1 2 "The Amtrak Vision for the Northeast Corridor: 2012 Update Report" (PDF). Amtrak. 2012-07-17. Retrieved 2012-10-16.
  6. Nussbaum, Paul (10 July 2012). "Amtrak's high-speed Northeast Corridor plan at $151 billion". The Inquirer. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  7. Report of the Board of Railroad Commissioners, February 15, 1911, page 408
  8. Cudahy 2002, p. 34
  9. Churella 2013, pp. 222–223
  10. Churella 2013, p. 358
  11. Churella 2013, p. 357
  12. Churella 2013, p. 744
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  16. Middleton 2001, p. 85
  17. Middleton 2001, p. 315
  18. "P.R.R. WILL SPEND $77,000,000 AT ONCE; Atterbury Outlines Projects Under PWA Loan Giving Year's Work to 25,000. TO EXTEND ELECTRIC LINE Sees Buying Power Restored and Industry Stimulated by Wide Building Program", The New York Times, January 31, 1934, retrieved 2012-08-08
  19. 'Acses to speed NE Corridor, Railway Gazette International, 1 September 1998,
  20. William D. Middleton (December 1999). "Passenger rail in the 20th Century". Railway Age. Archived from the original on 2007-05-04. Retrieved 2006-11-13.
  22. "A loss for Amtrak is Coleman's Gain." Business Week, 1976-09-13, p. 36.
  23. United States Railway Association, Washington, D.C. (1975-07-26). Final System Plan for Restructuring Railroads in the Northeast and Midwest Region pursuant to the Regional Rail Reorganization Act of 1973. ("FSP"):
    Vol. 1. Vol. 2
  24. 1 2 U.S. Congress. Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976, Pub. L. 94-210, 90 Stat. 31, 45 U.S.C. § 801. 1976-02-05. Sometimes referred to as the "4R Act."
  25. USDOT. "NECIP Redirection Study." January 1979. p. 1.
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  29. Middleton 2001, pp. 431–432
  30. Wald, Matthew (November 9, 2005). "Amtrak's President Is Fired by Its Board". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-05-14.
  31. "On site briefing by NTSB Board Member Robert Sumwalt on Amtrak Train 188 Derailment in Philadelphia, PA 5/13/ 2015 NTSB (video)
  32. Brotzman, Chris "Shore tower|"
  33. Mouawad, Jad "Technology That Could Have Prevented Amtrak Derailment Was Absent" The New York Times, May 14, 2015, p. 1
  34. Nussbaum, Paul and Wood, Anthony R. "Automatic braking was in place on other side of curve" The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 14, 2015
  35. "Rear-End Collision of Amtrak Passenger Train 94, The Colonial and Consolidated Rail Corporation Freight Train ENS-121, on the Northeast Corridor on January 4, 1987" NTBSB Report RAR-88-01, January 25, 1988
  36. Interstate Commerce Commission, Investigation No. 2726, The Pennsylvania Railroad Co. Report: IN RE; Accident at Shore, PA., on September 6, 1943 ICC, Washington, D.C., October 1, 1943
  37. "Still No Answers in May Amtrak Power Outage". WNYC. June 22, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-13.
  38. "Inside Amtrak: Projects". Amtrak. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  39. Tom Baldwin (June 23, 2006). "Amtrak: Cause of power outage unknown". Courier-Post. Retrieved 2006-11-13.
  40. "Malloy: ‘Catastrophic Failure’ On Metro-North New Haven Line". CBS New York. September 26, 2013. Accessed October 5, 2013
  41. "Section 4: Identification of Alternatives". Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Handbook (2 ed.). Federal Highway Administration. August 2007. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  42. "49 U.S.C. 24906 - ELIMINATING HIGHWAY AT-GRADE CROSSINGS". U.S. Government Publishing Office. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  43. 1 2 Dee, Jane E. (29 March 1999). "Rail Crossings Safety Issue For Amtrak". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
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  45. O'Donnell, Noreen (5 February 2015). "Technology Solution? Sensors Could Warn Trains of Cars on Tracks". NBC Bay Area. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  46. Dee, Jane E. (9 September 1999). "Amtrak To Put Up 7 Safer Gates". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  47. McGeehan, Patrick & Wald, Matthew L. (30 September 2005). "High-Tech Gates Fail to Avert Car-Train Crash". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 September 2008.
  48. "Investigators Seek Answers In Fatal Crash That Killed Two; Cause of Waterford car-train accident may never be known". The New London Day. 30 September 2005.
  49. "Family sues over fatal car crash on railroad tracks". The Boston Globe. Associated Press. 27 December 2006. Archived from the original on 27 December 2008.
  50. 1 2 3 4 "Amtrak System Safety Program" (PDF). December 2007. pp. 22–3. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  51. "Passenger ridership" (PNG). Amtrak. Retrieved 2015-11-05.
  52. Congressional Budget Office. "The Past and Future of U.S. Passenger Rail Service," September 2003.
  53. O'Toole, Randal (29 June 2011). "Intercity Buses: The Forgotten Mode". Policy Analysis (680).
  54. Nixon, Ron. (2012, August 16.) Trading Planes for Trains: Riders Weary of Patdowns and Delays Set Records for Amtrak. The New York Times, p. B1
  55. PWRR system map
  58. "Japan Pitches Its High-Speed Train With an Offer to Finance". The New York Times.
  59. "Amtrak Releases Concept for 220 mph Train Along Northeast Corridor". AASHTO Journal. Retrieved 2010-10-10.
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  61. "N.Y. to D.C., 96 mins., $117 billion". CNN Money. 2010-11-02.
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  63. "Maloney Hails Federal Grant to Ease Amtrak Delays in NYC, Spur High-Speed Rail in NE Corridor - $294.7 Million Grant to Improve "Harold Interlocking", a Delay-Plagued Junction For Trains in the NE Corridor". Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. 2011-05-09. Retrieved 2011-05-13.
  64. Colvin, Jill (May 9, 2011). "New York Awarded $350 Million for High-Speed Rail Projects". Retrieved 2011-05-13.
  65. "House Vote Jeopardizes Key Northeast Rail Projects". Back on Track: Northeast. The Business Alliance for Northeast Mobility. July 20, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-21.
  66. "Harold Interlocking Northeast Corridor Congestion Relief Project". Capital Program. Metropolitan Transit Authority (New York). Retrieved 2016-04-30.
  67. Schned, Dan (August 24, 2011). "U.S. DOT Obligates $745 Million to Northeast Corridor Rail Projects". America 2050. Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  68. Frassinelli, Mike (May 9, 2011), "Feds steer $450M to N.J. for high-speed rail", The Star Ledger, retrieved 2011-05-13
  69. Thorbourne, Ken (May 9, 2011), "Amtrak to receive nearly $450 million in high speed rail funding", The Jersey Journal, retrieved 2011-05-13
  70. McGeehan, Patrick (May 9, 2011), scp=2&sq=Ray%20Lahood&st=cse "Florida's rejected rail funds flow north" Check |url= value (help), The New York Times, retrieved 2011-05-13
  71. "Amtak Seeks $1.3 billion for Gateway Project and Next-Generation High-Speed Rail on Northeast Corridor". Amtrak. April 4, 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-08.
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