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The Planning Process


The following information is taken from Section 2 of the NEC FUTURE Scoping Package, which presents the program's Preliminary Purpose & Need. The full Scoping Package can be found on this website under Project Documents.

The purpose of the NEC FUTURE program being led by the FRA is to:

  • Define current and future markets for improved rail service and capacity on the NEC.
  • Develop an integrated passenger rail transportation solution that:
    • Meets the existing and future service, reliability and capacity needs of the region.
    • Can be implemented incrementally.
    • Considers impacts to the environment and supports reductions in energy use.
    • Reflects the region's freight rail needs.
  • Create a regional planning framework to engage stakeholders throughout the Northeast in development of this program.


The Northeast region is facing serious mobility challenges, which, if left unaddressed, will have far reaching repercussions on the regional and national economy. The region is served by an extensive passenger and freight transportation system of highways, airports, ports, and rail. That transportation system has outdated technology and lacks sufficient capacity, connectivity and redundancy to support local and inter-regional mobility needs, resulting in major congestion and delays.

NEC FUTURE is a roadmap for future investments in an integrated passenger rail transportation system necessary to sustain and advance economic growth.

Moreover, regional population and economic growth will require investment in this transportation infrastructure to provide businesses with access to a growing workforce and resources and to provide residents with safe, reliable and convenient travel options. Highway, airport, and rail networks all face substantial challenges to meet their share of growing travel demand and each mode requires investment to address capacity and deteriorating conditions. The Northeast rail system has and will continue to play a critical role in shaping and supporting the development of the Northeast. Upgrades to that system are essential for connecting commuters and travelers with growing downtown business centers. A well defined and planned role for investment in passenger rail is required to improve the region's multimodal transportation network and its ability to support population and economic growth along the NEC.