The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced recipients of the first of two highly-anticipated grant programs created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program (Fed-State NEC) funds intercity rail projects along the Northeast Corridor (NEC), a railway line that connects Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. and serves as one of the world’s busiest passenger rail corridors with 800,000 daily riders. Recipients of the second grant program, Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail – National Program (Fed-State National) will be announced in the coming months. Fed-State National invests in intercity rail projects across the rest of the United States. Long-distance Amtrak routes, as well as high-speed rail projects including California and Cascadia, are among potential recipients.
The Fed-State NEC grant program announced $16.4 billion in funding allocated to support 25 passenger rail projects along the Northeast Corridor (NEC), the largest investment in American passenger rail since 1971. The investment includes nearly $10 billion awarded to Amtrak to modernize infrastructure, improve stations and support future ridership growth for 12 projects on the NEC. The announcement is a benchmark toward President Biden’s vision for a world-class passenger rail system and aligns with his broader “Bidenomics” and “Investing in America” agenda, which prioritize infrastructure investments. The funding will not only create over 100,000 well-paying construction jobs but also advance projects like the Gateway Program, a critical initiative for modernizing rail travel.
The NEC is central to the U.S. economy, accounting for 24 million jobs and contributing 20% of the national GDP. It serves 800,000 passengers daily, including intercity travelers, commuters, and tourists. Despite its pivotal role, the corridor has seen minimal federal investments in recent decades.
Today’s historic announcement includes nearly four times as many projects compared to previous years. These investments will address critical infrastructure challenges, particularly aging bridges and tunnels that are over a century old, leading to delays and increased travel times for passengers. The improvements will encompass tunnels, bridges, tracks, power systems, signals, stations, and more. These upgrades will result in faster travel times, enhanced reliability, and a more environmentally-friendly mode of transportation, reducing emissions compared to driving or flying.
The timing of this investment is significant as demand for passenger rail continues to grow along the NEC. Amtrak ridership this summer exceeded pre-pandemic levels, underlining the region’s importance as a transportation hub.
“These grants will help advance Amtrak’s plans to modernize the Northeast Corridor and unlock major bottlenecks on the busiest passenger rail corridor in America,” said Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner. “I want to thank President Biden, USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg and FRA Administrator Amit Bose for their continued support as Amtrak and our partners rebuild this critical infrastructure asset.”
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg highlighted the transformative impact of these investments: “Under President Biden, we are finally delivering the generational investments in passenger rail that Americans have wanted for years, including modernizing the busiest rail corridor in the country. These investments will make our busiest passenger railroad safer, faster, and more reliable, which means fewer delays and shorter commutes for the 800,000 passengers who rely on the Northeast Corridor every day.”
FRA Administrator Amit Bose also emphasized the significance of these investments: “The President’s investments in rail are the boldest ever, and they’re going to bring immediate benefits to communities and the economy while laying the foundation for generations of growth. Today’s investment will help ensure essential rail corridors like the Northeast Corridor are modern, safe, and convenient, giving Americans access to world-class passenger service.”
The 12 Amtrak projects that received funding include:
- Frederick Douglass Tunnel Program (up to $4.7B)
- Susquehanna River Rail Bridge Project (up to $2.08B)
- East River Tunnel Rehabilitation Project (up to $1.26B)
- Connecticut River Bridge Replacement Project (up to $826.64M)
- Dock Bridge Rehabilitation Project (up to $300.18M)
- Sawtooth Bridges Replacement Project (up to $133.32M)
- Baltimore Penn Station Redevelopment (up to $108.32M)
- Pelham Bay Bridge Replacement Project (up to $58.27M)
- Gunpowder River Bridge Replacement Program (up to $30M)
- NEC South End Infrastructure Renewal and Speed Improvement Planning Study (up to $21.6M)
- Bush River Bridge Replacement Program (up to $18.8M)
- New Haven to Providence Capacity Planning Study (up to $4M)
The additional 13 NEC projects receiving funding, include:
- Hudson Tunnel Project – Gateway Development Commission (up to $3.79B)
- Penn Station Access – MTA (up to $1.64B)
- Walk Bridge Replacement Project – CTDOT (up to $465M)
- Devon Bridge Replacement Project – CTDOT (up to $245.92M)
- Delco Lead – NJ TRANSIT (up to $180.9M)
- New Haven Line Power Improvement Program – CTDOT (up to $122.8M)
- Devon Bridge Interim Repairs – CTDOT (up to $119.32M)
- Hartford Line Rail Program Double Track (Phase 3B) Project – CTDOT (up to $104.86M)
- New Haven Line Track Improvement and Mobility Enhancement Part 1 and 3 – CTDOT (up to $71.64M)
- Newark Penn Station Vertical Circulation Improvements – NJ TRANSIT (up to $59.2M)
- Reconstruction of Cornwells Heights Station – SEPTA (up to $30.5M)
- Saugatuck River Bridge Replacement – CTDOT (up to $23.2M)
- New Haven Line Network Infrastructure Upgrade Project – CTDOT (up to $15.4M)
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is set to significantly boost passenger rail investments, with the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program creating new opportunities for small businesses. The program will make $36 billion available over the next five years, with $24 billion dedicated to NEC projects and $12 billion for intercity passenger rail and high-speed rail projects nationwide.