ConnDOT: New England Governors Pursuing Joint Regional Vision for High Speed Rail

FOR RELEASE: July 13, 2009
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New England Governors Pursuing Joint Regional Vision for High Speed Rail
The New England Governors today announced they are working together on a coordinated regional vision for high speed rail that will connect major cities and airports, and support economic growth throughout the region. The Vision for the New England High Speed and Intercity Rail Network lays out key projects to strengthen passenger and freight rail service along new and existing rail corridors.  The goal is to double passenger rail ridership in the Northeast by 2030. 
"Speaking with one voice and presenting a united, cohesive front will be crucial to winning the battle to secure commitments and funding that will provide greater mobility for our citizens and better freight options for moving goods throughout the Northeast. This is not a Connecticut issue or a Massachusetts issue or even a New England issue. It is an issue that underpins the entire region's economy and quality of life for commuters and business travelers, tourists and companies that are looking to expand their markets while keeping shipping costs in check,” Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell said. “As Governors, we understand these issues, and I commend our commissioners of transportation for putting aside any local, parochial concerns and uniting in their vision for a truly regional, collaborative solution to our transportation challenges. I also want to particularly commend Connecticut DOT Commissioner Joe Marie for solidifying support throughout the region for enhancing the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield corridor -- including innovative multi-modal links to air and bus service -- which will benefit passengers and freight carriers for decades to come. Working together, rather than competing among ourselves, is the only way we will make real progress."


The Governors have asked their Transportation chiefs to meet regularly with the New England Congressional delegation and work to advance their rail initiatives with coordinated applications for high speed rail grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, while also pursuing other federal funding opportunities.  On Friday July 10, the states submitted pre-applications as part of the competitive grant process. In August the states will meet in Vermont at a high speed rail summit to continue their push for a strong high speed rail network in New England.


“If we are to be successful in this effort, the key will be the regional collaboration that we are voicing today,” said Connecticut DOT Commissioner Joseph F. Marie. “By taking the long view, our Governors have ensured that everyone will win – commuters, businesses and, ultimately, the economy of the Northeast.”


The six key projects in the states’ vision are:


  • Through Connecticut’s leadership, the group will work to double track and replace bridges on the Springfield Line that serves the cities of New Haven, Hartford, and Springfield in order to provide the foundation for the larger rail network. Expanded train service will provide key connections between New York City, Bradley International Airport and will allow further development of the inland high speed rail line between Boston and New York.


  • The Downeaster service which operates on a route included in the Northern New England High Speed Rail Corridor between Boston and Portland is a national model for the successful introduction of new intercity passenger rail service. The states along the Downeaster Route are working together to improve the infrastructure with the goal of reducing the travel time between Boston and Portland to two hours and increasing capacity to support 7 daily round trips. 


  • New Hampshire’s Capital corridor will create easily accessible passenger rail service for more than 500,000 residents of Southern New Hampshire with stops in the cities of Concord, Manchester, Nashua and Boston.  The rail line will also stop at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, creating a much-needed connection for tourists and travelers from across northern New England.  Eventually, this service will extend north to White River Junction, VT and to Montreal fulfilling the vision of this designated High-Speed Rail Corridor. .


  • Vermont’s Western Corridor will provide direct service down the western side of the state connecting Burlington, Rutland, and Bennington with Albany and New York City via the Empire Corridor.


  • Massachusetts will return the Vermonter to its original route through western Massachusetts via the Knowledge Corridor.  This effort, supported by the State of Vermont, is a vivid example of the ongoing collaboration of two states working together to improve service and increase the number of rail passengers. The Knowledge Corridor between Springfield and White River Junction provides connection between the Boston to New Haven and the Boston to Montreal legs of the Northern New England High Speed Rail Corridor.


  • Providing the connection between Providence and Boston to TF Green Airport in Rhode Island via the Northeast Corridor as well as enhancing passenger service south of Providence will build on the long term transportation partnership between Rhode Island and Massachusetts. In addition, Rhode Island is working with Amtrak on capacity improvements along the Northeast Corridor in Southern Rhode Island that will permit bi-directional overtakes for intercity passenger rail, benefiting all users of the corridor while providing for future commuter rail infrastructure at Kingston Station.


Other projects the states will pursue include the development of corridor plans for the Boston to New Haven and Boston to Montreal segments of the Northern New England High Speed Rail Corridor via the Inland Route through Worcester and Springfield.  The Inland Route is also important as New England’s largest freight rail corridor. Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts will develop corridor plans for the northern half of the Northern New England High Speed Rail Corridor, which extends from Boston to Portland and beyond and from Boston through Concord, NH, Vermont and terminating in Montreal.  Massachusetts will continue its investment in the South Coast Rail project and continues to be supportive of building a connection between the North and South regional rail networks.


For decades the New England states have successfully worked through the Coalition of Northeastern Governors (CONEG) to promote passenger rail service in the Northeast. The completion for the electrification of the Northeast Corridor in 2000 is a prime example of the successful long term advocacy for passenger rail. The development of the Northern New England High Speed Rail Corridor will fill in the gaps of the region’s network and be a critical element in achieving the Northeast Governors’ goal to double passenger ridership in the northeast corridor by 2030.