Planning and development efforts for Amtrak’s existing Northeast Corridor (NEC) and its proposed new, dedicated 220 mph next-generation high-speed rail system are being fully integrated within a new Northeast Corridor business line.
This integrated business line will bring together all Amtrak funding, policy and planning decisions regarding NEC improvements and ensure that the continued development of high-speed rail is a critical element of Amtrak’s plans for the Corridor.
The change is the first to be implemented under a new strategic plan which aligns Amtrak’s organizational structure and resources with the company’s goals and priorities. Safety and security are the top priorities with a strong focus on strengthening Amtrak’s bottom line.
“The NEC is Amtrak’s premier asset and expanding high-speed rail service is essential to maximizing its success,” said President and CEO Joseph Boardman. “The NEC requires more capacity, greater connectivity and increased operating speeds for all Corridor users. Improving and expanding our high-speed rail capabilities is central to achieving those goals.”
Effective today, Stephen Gardner is the Vice President of NEC Infrastructure and Investment Development. Gardner is transitioning to the new role from his position as Amtrak Vice President of Policy and Development.
“Stephen has extensive experience and understanding of the NEC and the needs of its customers, and is keenly aware that improving the NEC for all users and building a 220 mph system will require both public investment and private finance,” said Boardman.
The new NEC business line is focused on coordinating, managing and developing Amtrak-owned infrastructure in the Northeast to maximize the financial performance of the NEC and to support the current and future operations on the Corridor, including Amtrak, commuter and freight railroad service. It is charged with leading high-speed rail projects, advancing a state of good repair, managing capacity allocation and creating new capacity for existing and new rail services on the Corridor.
In addition, by the end of 2011 Amtrak intends to release an update to its NEC vision plan which integrates planned improvements to the existing Corridor with the proposed development of a next-generation high-speed rail system.
The updated report will incorporate the significant advancements in planning and conceptual development that have occurred during the past year with new analysis of the conceptual alignment, ridership, revenue, operations and maintenance costs projections, and capital investment needs. It also will set forth an ambitious and realistic plan for the phased implementation of true world-class high-speed rail in the Northeast by incrementally upgrading existing NEC infrastructure, enhancing capacity at key chokepoints and building new infrastructure.
Also, Amtrak continues to work on a NEC high-speed rail business and financial plan that will address a variety of project financing issues and will identify strategies for financing, including opportunities to maximize private investment in the future development of the NEC.
Concurrent with the implementation of the new strategic plan and integrated NEC development structure, Al Engel, Vice President of High-Speed Rail, has advised the company he is leaving Amtrak in December to pursue other opportunities. As part of Amtrak’s succession planning practices, Engel will assist in the transition.
“Al has performed tremendous work to develop, advance and bring national and international recognition and credibility to the Amtrak high-speed rail program,” said Boardman. “As a direct result of Al’s leadership, Amtrak is well-positioned and has developed a strong path forward to realizing world-class high-speed rail on the Northeast Corridor.”
“I appreciate the opportunity I have had to work at Amtrak and guide the development of its high-speed rail program,” Engel said. “Amtrak is vital to achieving true high-speed rail in the United States and it is my sincere hope that the initiatives we have launched will gather momentum and become reality.”