A new department to pursue opportunities in new intercity high-speed rail service has been announced by Amtrak. The new unit will explore high-speed rail in select corridors around the country, including major improvements on the Northeast Corridor. This includes the feasibility of increasing top speeds up to 220 mph.
“We intend to be a major player in the development and operation of new corridors,” said President and CEO Joseph Boardman, noting Amtrak is the only railroad in America to operate passenger trains at 150 mph. “New high-speed rail services, linked together with conventional intercity passenger rail and local transit, are a key part of a sustainable future for America.”
Boardman said the move will better position Amtrak to maximize opportunities in new intercity passenger rail operations. The new department will focus on the Amtrak-owned Northeast Corridor. Key goals include: a major reduction in trip-times between Washington, D.C. and New York and New York and Boston; a significant increase in the number of train frequencies and determining the feasibility of increasing top speeds up to 220 mph.
“We look forward to the day when a network of high-speed, regional and long-distance intercity passenger trains can provide a majority of Americans with a high-quality and environmentally-friendly alternative to driving or flying,” Boardman stated. In 2009, Amtrak carried 27.2 million passengers, making it the second best year in Amtrak’s history.