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Tier 1 EIS

Alternatives Development

Tier 1 EIS Alternatives

The FRA evaluated the 15 Preliminary Alternatives by comparing them to understand whether and how each met the Purpose and Need, and analyzing their benefits in terms of ridership, travel time, and service quality. The results are described in the Preliminary Alternatives Evaluation Report. Based on the evaluation of the Preliminary Alternatives, public input, and extensive consultation with stakeholders, the FRA repackaged the 15 Preliminary Alternatives into three distinct Action Alternatives for evaluation in the Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement. See also the Tier 1 EIS Alternatives Report for more details on the development of the Tier 1 EIS Alternatives.

  • Alternative 1 maintained the role of rail with sufficient service to keep pace with population and employment growth
  • Alternative 2 grew the role of rail with service to new markets and to accommodate a greater portion of the population
  • Alternative 3 transformed the role of rail by becoming a dominant mode choice for travel in the Northeast

A No Action Alternative was also defined to establish a baseline for comparative purposes. Each Tier 1 EIS Alternative consisted of: a set of geographic markets to be served by passenger rail; a Representative Route (or footprint) that connects these markets; assumptions about the level of passenger rail service that will be provided to these markets; and infrastructure improvements that support this level of service.

Each Action Alternative represented a different long-term vision for improving passenger rail service that would enhance mobility options, improve performance, and better serve existing and new markets that support future population and employment growth in the Study Area. While the Action Alternatives are distinct in their service and physical characteristics, each of them:

  • Maintained and improved service on the existing NEC
  • Brought the NEC to a state of good repair by replacing or renewing aging infrastructure and eliminating the backlog of infrastructure requiring replacement
  • Addressed the most pressing chokepoints that constrain capacity on the existing NEC
  • Protected freight rail access and the opportunity for future expansion

More information on the Tier 1 EIS Alternatives:

Enhanced Service Concepts

Each of the Action Alternatives included the adoption of enhanced service and precision operations concepts. These enhanced operating concepts represented national and international best practices, and are aimed at enhancing the attractiveness and convenience of train services, increasing the efficiency of operations, lowering the cost per capita of delivering rail service, and making the most efficient use of investments in new rail infrastructure, while providing flexibility for rail operators to deliver service that best meets the needs of the market in 2040. The links below provide more information.

Regular Clockface Schedules

Service Plans for the three Action Alternatives provided for regular schedules for all train services operating on the NEC. Trains would operate at regular intervals, rather than on the basis of demand, as is the case today. Services operated at regular 15-, 30-, or 60-minute intervals, with local stations generally receiving two to four trains per hour during peak periods and major stations often receiving more service.

Metropolitan Service

All of the Action Alternatives introduced Metropolitan service, although the level of service and the performance characteristics of the service vary based on the railroad infrastructure and capacity provided in each alternative.

  • In Alternative 1, Metropolitan service shared train slots with Intercity-Corridor-Other service, operate mostly over existing NEC tracks, and service wass limited to no more than two trains per hour in the peak periods.
  • In Alternative 2, Metropolitan utilized high-performance train equipment to provide four trains per hour, at regular 15-minute intervals, and services an expanded mix of Intercity and some Regional rail stations.
  • In Alternative 3, Metropolitan service utilizesd high-performance train equipment to provide eight trains per hour stopping at expanded mix of Intercity and some Regional rail stations on both the existing NEC and on the new second-spine. For example, both Philadelphia 30th Street Station and the new downtown Philadelphia station on the second-spine would be served by Metropolitan trains.
Run-Through Service at Major Stations

Regional rail run-through service, particularly applicable to Washington, D.C., and New York City, links branch lines from the different regional service operators and provides continuous revenue service on both sides of the metropolitan region through the Central Business District. It enables passengers to avoid transfers when traveling from one regional rail station to another through stations such as Penn Station New York and Washington Union Station. It also provides reduces dwell time at stations and reduces the number of train movements.

  • Alternative 1 retained the existing Regional rail operations with terminating services at Washington, D.C., New York City, and Boston. However, there could be opportunities to initiate limited new run-through service in the New York area, with LIRR trains operating through to New Jersey and NJ Transit trains running through to Queens and Long Island. Intercity trains provided the principal through-running service at Washington, D.C., and New York City.
  • Alternative 2 provided through running opportunities at both Washington, D.C. (VRE and MARC trains) and New York City (MNRR/LIRR and NJ TRANSIT trains). Through operations not only enhanced connectivity for passengers and expand capacity, they made for more efficient use of trains and storage areas.
  • Alternative 3similarly supported through-running operations, which permited the most efficient use of platform and track capacity at the major hub stations and enabled the dramatic increases in total train volumes that were possible in this alternative.
High Speed Zone Express Regional Rail Service

This enhanced service concept was a significant feature of Alternative 3, offering substantially faster commute times for longer-distance commute trips from the outer suburbs. For example, Maryland outer zone Regional rail trains could use the high-speed tracks between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Similarly, outer zone Regional rail trains in New Jersey could use the high-speed tracks on final approach to New York City to reduce trip times and relieve congestion on the local tracks. Alternative 3 provided opportunities for up to six or eight commuter express trains per hour from either Long Island or the Upper Harlem Line to Penn Station New York, depending upon the route option.

Coordinated Endpoint and Branch Line Connections

This includes the coordinated scheduling of Regional rail trains on systems that have multiple branch lines or multiple terminals, or where the outer ends of two regional systems meet at a common station (defined as endpoints), can provide for convenient passenger connections, extending the reach of the existing systems, substituting for costly extensions for one-seat-ride service, and providing a much more convenient transfer experience for rail travelers. Alternatives 1, 2, and 3 took advantage of opportunities for better connected Regional rail service at several locations on the NEC, effectively closing the gaps that now exist in Regional rail connectivity from one system to another. The Action Alternatives also improved connectivity between main line and branch line services at multiple locations.

Pulse-Hub Operations

A pulse-hub is a special application of service coordination, where multiple trains converge on a single hub station concurrently or in close succession, dwell simultaneously for a period of time while passengers transfer from one service to another, and then depart toward their various destinations. The Service Plans for Alternatives 2 and 3 provided for pulse-hub operations on the lower level of Philadelphia 30th Street Station with Intercity-Express, Metropolitan, Keystone Corridor, and Atlantic City trains all connecting with universal transfer opportunities every 30 minutes during the peak periods. The Alternative 3 route option from Long Island through New Haven, CT to Hartford, CT also provided a timed pulse-hub at New Haven.

Compare Tier 1 EIS Alternatives