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NEC FUTURE

Tier 1 EIS

Alternatives Development

Preliminary Alternatives

The next step was to organize the Initial Alternatives into four program levels that differ by the level and types of rail service they provide to the region. The four program levels support a broad range of options for the role that passenger rail can play on the NEC and across the region, from a lower cost approach focused on the minimum investment required to a transformational vision that includes a second spine designed to support HSR service at speeds up to 220 mph. Variations were developed within each program level to test key service attributes and dynamics. Within each program level, the FRA developed multiple alternatives to better understand and quantify key market and service dynamics, such as the trade-offs between frequency of service, trip time, and the convenience of one-seat end-to-end service. In all, the FRA defined 15 Preliminary Alternatives.

Additional summary information on the Preliminary Alternatives is available at the following links:

Preliminary Alternatives Report

Preliminary Alternatives Comparison Graphic

Preliminary Alternatives Comparison

Select an alternative number to view details [each interactive Preliminary Alternative contains a route map, description, and key features]:

Program Levels:  A, B, C & D
Alternatives: 1-15

A B C D
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Program Level A — Preliminary Alternative 1

Conventional Operations with Lower-Cost Capacity Improvements

View Alternative Description

Alternative 1 resembles the current NEC operations. Relatively low-cost improvements maintain current service levels and types, with minor upgrades to improve efficiency.

View Key Features

  • Current service mix (intercity, regional/commuter and high-speed services)
  • Relatively low-cost improvements to the existing NEC Spine
  • New trainsets for express service

Program Level A — Preliminary Alternative 2

Conventional Operations with Cost-Effective Capacity Improvements

View Alternative Description

Alternative 2 improves reliability and increases service levels for both intercity and regional/commuter passengers, with service types similar to those currently offered. It upgrades existing infrastructure to a State of Good Repair and eliminates some of the most pressing choke points that currently limit capacity.

View Key Features

  • Current service mix (intercity, regional/commuter and high-speed services)
  • Modest increase in service levels
  • Improvements to address some of the most pressing choke points on existing NEC Spine
  • New trainsets for express service

Program Level A — Preliminary Alternative 3

Enhanced Operations with Cost-Effective Capacity Improvements

View Alternative Description

Alternative 3 improves reliability, increases service levels, and introduces new services on the existing NEC Spine to enhance the mix of services offered today. Enhancements include a new Metropolitan service that provides more frequent operations for longer-distance travel within metropolitan areas, and the potential for coordinated schedules, allowing convenient transfers between services. It upgrades existing infrastructure to a State of Good Repair and eliminates some of the most pressing choke points that currently limit capacity.

View Key Features

  • Enhanced service mix with new Metropolitan service (limited-stop, run-through service for longer-distance trips within broad metropolitan areas)
  • Modest increase in service levels
  • Improvements to address some of the most pressing choke points on existing NEC Spine
  • New trainsets for express service

Program Level B — Preliminary Alternative 4

Conventional Operations with Increased Capacity on Existing NEC Spine

View Alternative Description

Alternative 4 improves reliability and travel time for both intercity and regional/commuter travel. It increases the volume of service, providing more trains of each currently existing type. The performance of the existing NEC Spine is enhanced, with increases in capacity at all significant choke points, improvements in terminal capacity, and additional tracks where necessary.

View Key Features

  • Current service mix (intercity, regional/commuter and high-speed services)
  • Increased service levels
  • Increased capacity at all significant choke points
  • Additional tracks within the existing NEC right of way where necessary to accommodate service

Program Level B — Preliminary Alternative 5

Enhanced Operations with More Frequent Service and Increased Capacity on Existing NEC Spine

View Alternative Description

Alternative 5 improves reliability and travel time for both intercity and regional/commuter travel. It focuses on maximizing train frequency, with coordinated schedules for convenient transfers at hub stations. The performance of the existing NEC Spine is optimized, with increases in capacity at all significant choke points, improvements in terminal capacity, and additional tracks where necessary.

View Key Features

  • Enhanced service mix with higher frequency and more trains to all markets
  • Convenient, well-coordinated transfers at hub stations
  • Increased capacity at all significant choke points
  • Additional tracks within the existing NEC right of way where necessary to accommodate service

Program Level B — Preliminary Alternative 6

Enhanced Operations with Higher Speed Service and Increased Capacity on Existing NEC Spine

View Alternative Description

Alternative 6 improves reliability and travel time for both intercity and regional/commuter travel, with a focus on travel time reductions between major intercity markets. It emphasizes express services with convenient transfers at express hub stations. The performance of the existing NEC Spine is optimized, with increases in capacity at all significant choke points, improvements in terminal capacity, and additional tracks where necessary.

View Key Features

  • Enhanced service mix with reduced trip time between key markets
  • More express services and faster connections from intermediate stations and connecting corridors
  • Convenient, well-coordinated transfers at express hub stations
  • Increased capacity at all significant choke points

Program Level B — Preliminary Alternative 7

Enhanced Operations with More One-Seat Rides and Increased Capacity on Existing NEC Spine

View Alternative Description

Alternative 7 improves reliability and travel time for both intercity and regional/commuter travel, with a focus on providing more one-seat rides (direct service) both on and off the NEC Spine. The performance of the existing NEC Spine is optimized, with increases in capacity at all significant choke points, improvements in terminal capacity, and additional tracks where necessary.

View Key Features

  • Enhanced service mix with more one-seat ride options on and off the NEC Spine
  • More choices of direct service to various destinations
  • Increased service to connecting corridors, including run-through services
  • Increased capacity at all significant choke points
  • Additional tracks within the existing NEC right of way where necessary to accommodate service

Program Level C — Preliminary Alternative 8

Conventional Operations with Partial New Alignments Parallel to NEC

View Alternative Description

Alternative 8 provides a major increase in service to all markets on the existing NEC Spine and expands service to connecting corridors. Targeted investments include a partial new alignment parallel to the NEC.

View Key Features

  • Current service mix (intercity, regional/commuter and high-speed services)
  • Major increase in service to existing markets and connecting corridors
  • Targeted expansion of the existing NEC Spine to provide robust regional services
  • Potential for new routing via downtown Baltimore and Center City Philadelphia

Program Level C — Preliminary Alternative 9

Enhanced Operations with More Frequent Service and Partial New Alignments Parallel to NEC

View Alternative Description

Alternative 9 provides a major increase in service to all markets on the existing NEC Spine and expands service to connecting corridors. It focuses on maximizing train frequency, with coordinated schedules for convenient transfers at hub stations. Targeted investments include a partial new alignment parallel to the NEC.

View Key Features

  • Enhanced service mix with more trains to all markets
  • Convenient, well-coordinated transfers at hub stations
  • Targeted expansion of existing NEC Spine to increase train frequency and provide robust regional services
  • Potential for new routing via downtown Baltimore and Center City Philadelphia

Program Level C — Preliminary Alternative 10

Enhanced Operations with Higher Speed Service and Partial New Alignments Parallel to NEC

View Alternative Description

Alternative 10 provides a major increase in service to all markets on the existing NEC Spine and expands service to connecting corridors. It focuses on travel time reductions between major intercity markets, with higher speed express services and convenient transfers at express hub stations. Targeted investments include a partial new alignment parallel to the NEC.

View Key Features

  • Enhanced service mix with reduced trip time between key markets
  • Convenient, well-coordinated transfers at express hub stations
  • Targeted expansion of the existing NEC Spine to reduce trip time between major markets and provide robust regional services
  • Potential for new routing via downtown Baltimore and Center City Philadelphia

Program Level C — Preliminary Alternative 11

Enhanced Operations with More One-Seat Rides and Partial New Alignments Parallel to NEC

View Alternative Description

Alternative 11 provides a major increase in service to all markets on the existing NEC Spine and significantly expands service to connecting corridors. It focuses on providing more one-seat rides(direct service) both on and off the NEC Spine. Targeted investments include a partial new alignment parallel to the NEC.

View Key Features

  • Enhanced service mix with more one-seat ride options on and off the NEC Spine
  • More choices of direct service to various destinations
  • Increased opportunity for connecting services throughout the corridor, including run-through services
  • Targeted expansion of the existing NEC Spine to increase opportunity for one-seat rides to more destinations and provide robust regional services
  • Potential for new routing via downtown Baltimore and Center City Philadelphia

Program Level D — Preliminary Alternative 12

Enhanced Operations with Second NEC Spine Parallel to Existing NEC

View Alternative Description

Alternative 12 provides a major increase in the amount, quality and variety of service offered on the NEC, including reduced trip time between many points on and off-corridor. A second spine would be built generally parallel to the existing NEC Spine, allowing for high-speed rail and robust intercity and regional services.

View Key Features

  • Dedicated high-speed rail and robust intercity and regional services
  • Full-length new alignment parallel to existing NEC Spine
  • Express routing via downtown Baltimore and Center City Philadelphia
  • Improvements to existing NEC Spine to optimize service for continuing operations

Program Level D — Preliminary Alternative 13

Enhanced Operations with Second NEC Spine via Danbury-Hartford-Providence

View Alternative Description

Alternative 13 provides a major increase in the amount, quality and variety of service offered on the NEC, including reduced trip time between many points on and off-corridor. A second spine would be built with an off-corridor segment from north of New York to Providence, serving new markets in central Connecticut and allowing for high-speed rail and robust intercity and regional services.

View Key Features

  • Dedicated high-speed rail and robust intercity and regional services
  • Second NEC Spine with off-corridor segment from north of New York to Providence via Danbury and Hartford
  • Express routing via downtown Baltimore and Center City Philadelphia
  • Improvements to existing NEC Spine to optimize service for continuing operations

Program Level D — Preliminary Alternative 14

Enhanced Operations with Second NEC Spine via Suffolk County-Hartford-Worcester

View Alternative Description

Alternative 14 provides a major increase in the amount, quality and variety of service offered on the NEC, including reduced trip time between many points on and off-corridor. A second spine would be built with an off-corridor segment from New York to Boston via Long Island, New Haven, Hartford and Worcester, allowing for high-speed rail and robust intercity and regional services.

View Key Features

  • Dedicated high-speed rail and robust intercity and regional services
  • Second NEC Spine with off-corridor segment from New York to Boston via Suffolk County (Long Island), Hartford and Worcester
  • Express routing via downtown Baltimore and Center City Philadelphia
  • Improvements to existing NEC Spine to optimize service for continuing operations

Program Level D — Preliminary Alternative 15

Enhanced Operations with Second NEC Spine via Delmarva and Nassau-Stamford-Springfield-Worcester

View Alternative Description

Alternative 15 provides a major increase in the amount, quality and variety of service offered on the NEC, including reduced trip time between many points on and off-corridor. A second spine would be built with two off-corridor segments, allowing for high-speed rail and robust intercity and regional services. Off-corridor segments would include a new route between Washington, D.C. and Wilmington via Annapolis, and a new route between New York and Boston via Long Island, Stamford, Danbury, Hartford, Springfield and Worcester.

View Key Features

  • Dedicated high-speed rail and robust intercity and regional services
  • Second NEC Spine with off-corridor segments from Washington, D.C. to Wilmington via the Delmarva Peninsula and from New York to Boston via Nassau County (Long Island), Stamford, Danbury, Hartford, Springfield and Worcester
  • Express routing via Center City Philadelphia
  • Improvements to existing NEC Spine to optimize service for continuing operations
Alternative A 1