Critical Infrastructure Needs on the Northeast Corridor

In January 2013 the Northeast Corridor (NEC) Commission released its report, Critical Infrastructure Needs on the Northeast Corridor. This report and its accompanying interactive map serve as an informational resource that describes the improvements needed to reduce delays, achieve a state-of-good-repair, and build capacity for growth on the NEC.

Demand for rail service in the NEC is at record levels. The NEC, however, cannot continue to accommodate rising demand due to infrastructure that is highly congested and in need of repair. Hundreds of its bridges and tunnels are now over a century old; major portions of its electrical power supply system date from the 1930s or earlier; and signal systems rely on decades-old installations. With more than 2,000 trains per day and major segments at or near capacity, operating the NEC leaves little room for error, while capacity chokepoints preclude the increases in service necessary to accommodate growing demand.

The Critical Infrastructure Needs in this report were identified through a consensus-based process by the NEC Commission’s members, which include representatives from the NEC States, U.S. DOT, and Amtrak. This report recognizes that additional investment is necessary to renew and enhance the NEC as a world-class, high-performance rail corridor supporting the economic development and international competitiveness of the region and the nation with job creation, improved reliability of existing services, and a foundation for future mobility and economic growth.


Is this report a plan for the NEC?

While the Critical Infrastructure Needs on the NEC report describes the underlying needs for the most critical upgrades, it does not represent a formal plan. This report is an informational resource that will complement the ongoing development of integrated plans for the Corridor.

Download the Report. »


What is a Critical Infrastructure Need?

The Critical Infrastructure Needs focus on upgrades and repairs to stations, tracks, bridges, storage facilities, signals, and electrical equipment – and all other infrastructure components - that make up the busy NEC.

Base map

Where are the Critical Infrastructure Needs?

The Criticial Infrastructure Needs are located along the entire NEC Main Line, from Washington, DC, to Boston, MA. Learn more about each critical infrastructure need by exploring the Interactive Map.

View Interactive Map. »


The NEC plays a critical role in regional mobility

Every day, over 700,000 people, nearly half of all railroad commuters nationally, travel over portions of the NEC main line on one of eight commuter rail services. Over 40,000 intercity rail passengers use Amtrak’s various NEC services – trips that might otherwise further burden the region’s interstate highways or airports.

Commuter Rail Ridership

Demand for rail service in the NEC is growing

Ridership on commuter services and Amtrak trains on the NEC is growing. For example, overall ridership on Amtrak’s intercity NEC services has grown 37% since 2000. Between 2001 and 2011, Amtrak’s share of the air-rail travel market has increased from 37% to 75% for trips between New York and Washington, DC, and from 20% to 54% for trips between New York and Boston.

Commuter Rail Ridership

The NEC is in need of investment

State of good repair. The NEC relies on over 1,000 bridges and tunnels, many of which were constructed over a century ago and are in desperate need of replacement or repair.

Capacity. Key segments of the NEC are operating at or near capacity, such as the Hudson River Tunnels between NY and NJ, which carry over 70,000 riders daily and have no space for additional trains during rush hour.

Reliability. Major components of the NEC’s electrical and signaling systems date back to the 1930s, making service on the line highly susceptible to malfunctions and delay.