Bullet trains in America? The new push for major high-speed rail project between Boston and New York

Mar 1, 2021

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How does an hour and 40 minutes between New York City and Boston by train sound?

It’s not outside the realm of possibilities, with high-speed rail projects and proposals getting a major boost under the new Biden administration.

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Bloomberg reported on the possibility of a bullet train between some of the largest cities in the Northeast with a new tunnel from New York to Boston under the Long Island Sound with stops in Providence and Hartford. It’s called the North Atlantic Rail Project. It’s been in the works as an initiative since 2017 and is a collaboration between leaders in seven states.

Amtrak’s new Acela locomotive. (Image courtesy of Amtrak)

It would require the largest underwater tunnel in North America. It would also require government funding to really get off the ground. The tunnel would be built in three phases over 20 years at the cost of at least $105 billion.

(Screenshot courtesy North Atlantic Rail)


(Screenshot courtesy North Atlantic Rail)

I asked for a comment from the new Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. His team told me they weren’t ready to comment on the proposal right now but pointed me to an interview Buttigieg did with Joy Reid on MSNBC where he said, “I want the U.S. to be leading the world when it comes to access to high-speed rail, and I think we have a real opportunity to do that, especially with the bipartisan appetite for real investments that we have before us this year.”

In an interview with TPG last month, Buttigieg told me, “… an American citizen should have nothing to envy from a Japanese or Chinese or for that matter, an Italian or Turkish citizen when it comes to the opportunities for them to travel quickly where they need to be, and safely on passenger rail.”

Related: Amtrak’s new Acela high-speed trains to launch 2021

President Biden famously used Amtrak for his commute between Washington and Delaware during his years in the Senate.

The Biden administration will likely add to the budget for long-distance train travel, including Amtrak and increase funding for other trains, airports, ports and other infrastructure spending overall. The Biden administration is also much more likely to work with big-city mayors asking for federal funds for big train projects.

Related: Amtrak plans to expand new nonstop Acela service from New York

New York, for example, has been asking for major federal funding toward efforts to shore up the busy Northeast corridor and make improvements to tracks and stations.

The Biden White House will likely try to push through long-stalled infrastructure projects and fund projects already underway. They are enthusiastic about trains with the campaign saying last year that they want “to spark the second great rail revolution.”

Funding for the North Atlantic tunnel could be part of a major infrastructure bill currently working its way through Congress. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, Amtrak is already rolling out its new high-speed Acela train sets.

Amtrak wouldn’t comment specifically on a new bullet train, but did tell TPG, “We are looking forward to introducing our new high-speed Acela trains, which will modernize the customer experience with state-of-the-art accommodations and amenities, provide a smoother and even more comfortable ride, and offer a greener way to travel as the new fleet has been efficiently designed to use 40% less energy per passenger.”

Learn more about Acela:

Back in December, TPG reported on the new trains being tested and promoted by Amtrak. Pretty cool stuff.

Featured image courtesy Amtrak

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