Overview: The “Highline” is the segment of the NEC that runs from Newark to the entrance of the Hudson River Tunnels. The Highline owes its name to the elevated embankment that carries the NEC tracks high above the wet marshes of the New Jersey Meadowlands. Currently consisting of just two tracks, the Highline – along with the existing Hudson River Tunnels and Portal Bridge – forms part of the most significant capacity bottleneck on the NEC.
Along the Highline, four bridges carry the NEC over the streets and rail lines that cross below the NEC. Over 100 years old, these bridges carry roughly 80% of the 500 daily trains that touch on the segment. They are exhibiting fatigue, cracking, and must be replaced. Plans call for removing the existing two-track bridges and constructing new four-track bridges, including the replacement of the unique “sawtooth”Â bridge that carries the NEC over the NJ TRANSIT Morristown Line and the PATH rail line.
Overall, Amtrak envisions completing a full four-track railroad along the length of the Highline by constructing two new tracks from Newark to the Hudson River Tunnels. A continuous third and fourth track would be essential to unlocking the full capacity gains promised by larger projects, including a new Portal Bridge and new Hudson River Tunnels. This additional capacity would enable both Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT to increase service and would greatly improve reliability by creating the flexibility to divert trains to alternative tracks when there are disruptions on the line.