After nearly four years of planning and evaluation, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released its Preferred Alternative to improve the Northeast Corridor for passenger rail transportation from Washington, DC, to Boston.

The Preferred Alternative will follow the existing route from Washington, DC, to Wilmington, DE, and will add a route to the Philadelphia International Airport. It will add rail tracks in New York and Stamford, CT, and will add a new segment in Connecticut at New London/Mystic. It will also add a new and upgraded track to Hartford that terminates in Springfield, MA.

The FRA estimates that the Preferred Alternative will add 98 additional daily trains between Union Station, Washington, DC, and Penn Station, New York. An additional 70 daily trains will run between Baltimore, MD, to New Haven, CT, and 75 additional trains between Penn Station, New York, and Boston South Station. The Preferred Alternative will further shave 30 minutes off travel times between Washington, DC, and New York.

The FRA has released the Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement. The FRA has instituted a waiting period until January 31, 2017, during which the FRA will informally receive and review comments and feedback on the Preferred Alternative. It will thereafter issue a Record of Decision (ROD) to document its selection of the Selected Alternative.

Next steps include the preparation and release of a Service Development Plan (SDP) to outline the process for implementing the Selected Alternative, including a first phase of critical projects. The FRA expects to prepare the SDP in 2017.