September 19, 2012

FRA awards funds to Ind., Va.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) awarded $71.3 million to the state of Indiana to help alleviate congestion in one of the region’s most delay-prone rail corridors. The Indiana Gateway Project will both relieve congestion and support the development of higher performing intercity passenger rail service in the Midwest.

The project is located on 29.3 miles of track owned by Norfolk Southern Railway between Porter, Ind., and the Indiana/Illinois state line and at one location on Amtrak’s line. The improvements will include track reconfiguration and track and signal upgrades, all of which will help improve service reliability while creating jobs and relieving congestion.

More than 90 freight trains and 14 Amtrak intercity passenger trains currently travel the area between the Indiana/Illinois state border and Porter, Ind., every day.   

The completion of this project will significantly strengthen the Midwest Regional Rail Network, which will connect more than 40 cities in the Midwest. More than 100 million people call the Midwest region home, with the vast majority of residents living within 500 miles of the Chicago rail hub. Using the Gross Domestic Product as a measure, the Great Lakes-Midwest economic region would be the fifth largest economy if it were its own country.

With more than $2.5 billion already invested in the Midwest since 2009, funding 39 projects in eight states, the FRAd and its state partners are making great progress on High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail projects across the Midwest. Nationwide, more than $12 billion has been invested in 153 projects in 32 states, laying the foundation for a 21st Century passenger rail network.

Meanwhile, the FRA also awarded more than $74.8 million to the Commonwealth of Virginia to continue development of the Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor. The funding will help improve passenger and freight rail service between Virginia and Washington, D.C. and reduce delays on the Virginia Rail Express (VRE) commuter service.

The project will build up to 11 miles of third track and related improvements from Arkendale in Stafford County to Powell's Creek in Prince William County, Va. The third track will provide the capacity needed for higher speed trains on the Southeast Corridor to operate without conflict from freight and commuter trains. On a daily basis, 40 to 50 freight trains, 10 Amtrak trains and 14 VRE trains operate over this segment, and the addition of a third track will allow for traffic to flow unimpeded. In addition to adding a third track, the project includes final design and improvements to the station at the Quantico Marine Base in Quantico, Va.

When completed, the Corridor will have at least eight high-speed trains traveling at 110 mph between Charlotte, N.C. and Washington, D.C.  Travel time between the cities will be reduced by up to three hours, and travel time between Richmond, Va. and Washington, D.C will be reduced by 35 minutes.

The Southeast Corridor is one of five originally proposed high-speed passenger rail corridors designated by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 1992. It is part of an overall plan to extend service from the existing high-speed rail on the Boston to Washington Northeast Corridor to points in the Southeast. Future plans for the Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor call for extending service from Charlotte to Atlanta.

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