FRA Approve New England Railroad

The US Department of Transportation, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), has announced a finding of No Significant Impact on the Northern New England Intercity Rail Initiative. A New England railroad initiative will now allow states and the federal government to invest in passenger services in New England. The initiative recommends that services between Boston and New Haven through Springfield and Hartford be restored, and new services between Boston and Montreal be established.

FRA Approve New England Railroad
© Jack E. Boucher / Historic American Engineering Record US Congress Collection

The FRA awarded $942,775 to Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) through FRA’s Next Generation High-Speed Rail Program to conduct a study into potential service options. The Tier 1 Environmental, was a part of the study in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.

The Study found no significant environmental impacts resulting from adding more frequent and higher-speed intercity passenger rail services. This would be achieved by using existing operating rail lines within existing rights-of-way. The infrastructure improvements that were suggested also would be a part of existing rights-of-way along areas that were formerly double or triple-tracked.

MassDOT and VTrans will co-ordinate the Initiative alongside other projects, including FRA’s on-going comprehensive planning effort to define, evaluate, and prioritise future investments in the Northeast Corridor (NEC), known as the NEC FUTURE. The NEC operates from Washington D.C. to Boston. This initiative, along with the NEC FUTURE, will deliver better connectivity to central Connecticut, Massachusetts, northern New England and Montreal.

Anthony Foxx, U.S. Transportation Secretary, said:

“Existing passenger rail service through New England is limited and already at capacity for a region that is growing. With an approved blueprint in hand, New England can now move forward to connect people to key job centers and allow students to easily travel to and from New England’s numerous colleges.”

Sarah E. Feinberg, FRA Administrator, said:

“More than two million people live within three miles of a station along this corridor. […] For everyone to move safely and efficiently, the region needs a robust rail system, and this blueprint will help achieve that goal.”

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