The Preferred Alternative consisted of:
The FRA took a market-based approach to develop the Preferred Alternative, first identifying current travel patterns, how they have changed over the past three to four decades, and potential new rail markets.
Specifically for stations, the FRA developed a hierarchy of station types, based on the size of the geographic market and type and quantity of rail service offered. This typology applied to existing stations and future stations included in the No Action Alternative and Preferred Alternative. Stations are grouped based on similar characteristics into one of three categories:
The Representative Route refers to the physical path (or footprint) of the Preferred Alternative, and is used to assess its potential environmental effects. At the Tier 1 level, the footprint is only representative of where the physical route is located, and is not a prediction of future preferences or decisions. Recognizing the uncertainty that exists at this early stage of planning, the Representative Route provided a sound basis for programmatic evaluation of the environmental effects of the Preferred Alternative.
The FRA developed representative Service Plans for the No Action Alternative and Preferred Alternative to describe the types and levels of passenger train service operating on the NEC in 2040. These Service Plans depicted a representative service pattern for a typical future weekday, and included the train stops by station for both peak and non-peak periods. The representative Service Plans provided a basis for estimating future ridership and capital investment needs and costs, as well as to assess the environmental impacts associated with planned construction and future operations.
For NEC FUTURE, the FRA organized the various types of passenger rail service based on travel distance, travel market, trip purpose, where and how the trains operate, and the service characteristics and amenities offered to passengers.
The Preferred Alternative used existing and proposed infrastructure to support the operations necessary to grow the role of rail. Infrastructure Elements that made up the Preferred Alternative, as shown on the map, consisted of the following:
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