Definitions

Northeast Corridor

Northeast Corridor

The Northeast Corridor (NEC) is the busiest passenger rail line in the United States by ridership and service frequency. The route is fully electrified and serves a densely urbanized string of cities from Washington, D.C., in the south through Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, Trenton, Newark, New York, New Haven, and Providence to Boston. It also has branches connecting Philadelphia with Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; New Haven with Hartford, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts; New York City with Albany, New York, and several other commuter destinations. The busiest passenger rail station in the United States is Pennsylvania Station in New York, the central hub of the Northeast Corridor.

The NEC is immediately identified by the use of overhead wires and high speed rolling stock. Mostly operated and owned by Amtrak, the NEC offers the only true high-speed rail service in the United States, Amtrak's Acela Express, as well as lower-speed conventional pasenger trains. Freight trains also use the tracks. Several commuter rail agencies provide local service along the Northeast Corridor, some electrified and some diesel-powered. These rail networks are MARC in Maryland and Washington, D.C., SEPTA in Pennsylania and Delaware, NJ Transit in New Jersey, Metro-North in New York and Connecticut, Shore Line East in Connecticut, and MBTA in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Interstate 95 closely parallels the Northeast Corridor mainline for its entire length. The mainline can be seen from portions of Interstate 95. Indeed, I-95 so closely parallels the rail line that it even sometimes takes the same curves as the rail line, especially in Connecticut.

Current passenger services

The busiest part of the Northeast Corridor is the segment between Philadelphia and New York City. Amtrak operates 54 round-trip trains each weekday on this route, with an extra train (the Cardinal) on Wednesdays and Fridays. 344 round trips use the New York City to Philadelphia segment per week.

Amtrak accounts for about 14% of all intercity trips (including those by automobile) between Washington, D.C., and New York City and about 47% of trips between those cities by rail or air carrier.

The following Amtrak services run along the Northeast Corridor:

Other services using the NEC:

Non-Amtrak commuter rail services

In addition to Amtrak, several commuter rail agencies operate passenger service using the Northeast Corridor tracks.

Ownership

Track

With primarily passenger services, the Northeast Corridor is a cooperative venture between Amtrak and various state agencies. Amtrak owns the track between Washington and New Rochelle, New York, a northern suburb of New York City. The segment from New Rochelle to New Haven is owned by the states of New York and Connecticut. Metro-North Railroad commuter trains operate on this segment. North of New Haven, ownership again reverts to Amtrak, whose tracks stretch to the border between Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The final segment from the border north to Boston is owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Amtrak's ownership and upkeep of the line has become controversial after several high profile electric power failures in 2006 and other infrastructure problems. Intermittent power outages have caused delays, lasting up to five hours, for Amtrak and state commuter trains. Railroad officials have blamed Amtrak's funding woes for the deterioration of the track and power supply infrastructure, which in places is almost a hundred years old.

Stations

Amtrak owns Pennsylvania Station in New York, 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, Penn Station in Baltimore, and Union Station in Washington.

Freight service

Freight service is provided on the Northeast Corridor by trackage rights. The Norfolk Southern Railway operates over the line south of Philadelphia, and CSX Transportation has rights from New York to New Haven and in Massachusetts. Between Philadelphia and New York, Conrail, which formerly provided service on the whole line, still operates over the line, as a local switching and terminal company for both CSX and Norfolk Southern. The Providence and Worcester Railroad operates local freight service from New Haven into Rhode Island and has incidental trackage rights from New Haven to New York.

History

Unlike most European high-speed rail lines, built on new rights-of-way, the NEC uses existing lines that were built separately as early as the 1830s; the most recent section, the Hell Gate Bridge and New York Connecting Railroad in New York, opened in 1917. From 1893, when the NYNH&H acquired the Old Colony Railroad, including the Providence-Boston section of the NEC, the NEC has been owned by two companies - the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) from Washington to New York and the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad (NYNH&H) from New York to Boston. Under the PRR and NYNH&H, the lines were known as the Philadelphia-to-Washington Main Line, Philadelphia-to-New York Main Line and Shore Line.

In 1968 the PRR merged with its former rival, the New York Central Railroad, to form Penn Central Transportation. The NYNH&H was merged into Penn Central in 1969, bringing the whole Washington-Boston corridor under control of one company. With the 1971 formation of Amtrak, the intercity passenger services were under government control. In 1976 the bankrupt Penn Central was taken over by the government corporation Conrail, and the sections of line that had not already been sold to commuter transportation authorities were sold to Amtrak. The purchase of the Northeast Corridor was controversial at the time. The Department of Transportation initially blocked the transaction and withheld purchase funds for several months for largely political reasons until Amtrak granted it control over reconstruction of the corridor.

New York electrification

The electrification projects of the steam railroads in the area which is now the NEC began with the Baltimore Belt Line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1896 and the Park Avenue Tunnel of the New York and Harlem Railroad, part of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad (NYC) to its Grand Central Terminal in New York, and also used by the NYNH&H via trackage rights. With the 1900 opening of the Gare d'Orsay in Paris, France, the first electrified urban rail terminal in the world, a new technology was available, and the NYC began planning for electrification between Grand Central and the split at Mott Haven. Electricity was already in use on various branch lines of the NYNH&H, but was provided to interurban streetcars via third rail or trolley wire.

Low visibility caused by the air pollution of the steam locomotives used at the time caused an accident killing 17 on January 8, 1902, and the resulting public outcry led to a push for electric operation in Manhattan. In 1905 the NYNH&H announced that it would electrify its main line from New York to Stamford, Connecticut. Along with the construction of the new Grand Central Terminal, opened in 1912, the NYC electrified its lines, beginning on December 11, 1906 with suburban multiple unit service to High Bridge on the Hudson Line. Electric locomotives began serving Grand Central February 13, 1907, and all NYC passenger service into Grand Central was electrified July 1. NYNH&H electrification began July 24 to New Rochelle, August 5 to Port Chester and October 6, 1907 the rest of the way to Stamford. Steam trains last operated into Grand Central on June 30, 1908, after which all NYNH&H passenger trains into Manhattan were electrified. On June 22, 1914 the NYNH&H electrification was extended to New Haven, where it would end for many years.

At the same time, the PRR was building its Pennsylvania Station and electrified approaches, served by the PRR's lines in New Jersey and the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). LIRR electric service began in 1905 on the Atlantic Branch from downtown Brooklyn past Jamaica, and in June 1910 on the branch to Long Island City, part of the main line to Penn Station. Penn Station opened September 8, 1910 for LIRR trains and November 27 for the PRR, which changed engines and had platforms for transferring at Manhattan Transfer.

On July 29, 1911 the NYNH&H began electric service on its Harlem River Branch, a suburban branch that would become a main line with the completion of the New York Connecting Railroad and its Hell Gate Bridge. The bridge opened on April 1, 1917, but was operated by steam with an engine change at Sunnyside Yard east of Penn Station until 1918.

Philadelphia electrification

In 1905, the PRR announced that it would electrify its suburban lines at Philadelphia, eventually extending it all the way between New York and Washington. Electric service began September 11, 1915 with multiple unit trains west to Paoli on the PRR main line (now the Keystone Corridor). Electric service to Chestnut Hill (now the R8 Chestnut Hill West), including a stretch of the NEC, began March 30, 1918. Local electric service to Wilmington, Delaware on the NEC began September 30, 1928, and the other way to Trenton, New Jersey on June 29, 1930.

NEC southern section: New York to Washington

PRR electric service began between Exchange Place, the Jersey City terminal, and New Brunswick, New Jersey on December 8, 1932, including the extension of Penn Station electric service from Manhattan Transfer. On January 16, 1933 the rest of the electrification, between New Brunswick and Trenton, opened, giving a fully electrified intercity line between New York and Philadelphia, and beyond to Wilmington. Through trains to Washington began running under electricity to Wilmington February 12, with the engine change moved from Manhattan Transfer to Wilmington. The same was done on April 9 for trains running west from Philadelphia, with the change point moved to Paoli.

In 1933, the electrification south of Wilmington stalled due to the Great Depression, but the PRR managed to get a loan from the federal government, and resumed work the next year. The tunnels at Baltimore were rebuilt, and electric revenue service between New York and Washington began February 10, 1935. On April 7 the electrification of all New York-Washington passenger trains was complete, with 639 daily trains, 191 locomotive-hauled and the other 448 multiple unit. New York-Washington electric freight service began May 20 with the electrification of freight lines in New Jersey and Washington. Extensions to Potomac Yard across the Potomac River from Washington, as well as several freight branches along the way, were electrified in 1937 and 1938. The Potomac Yard electrification remained until 1981.

The North American speed record for a production train

The UAC Turbotrain set the speed record for a production train at 170.8 miles per hour on the Northeast Corridor between New Brunswick, New Jersey and Trenton, New Jersey on December 20, 1967, when that portion of the line was still under Pennsylvania Railroad control.

NEC northern section: New York to Boston

Electrification of the portion north of New Haven to Providence and Boston was planned by the NYNH&H, and authorized by the company's board of directors shortly before the U.S. entered World War I. This plan was not carried out because of the war and because of the company's financial problems. Decades later, a project for electrification between New Haven and Boston was included in a bill signed by President Gerald Ford in 1976. The project stalled after 1980 because of opposition from the Reagan Administration. Electrification of this section was at last completed prior to the December 2000 introduction of Acela Express service.

Penn Central and Amtrak: forming the NEC

Despite the New York Connecting Railroad and Hell Gate Bridge joining the two segments, they were operated almost entirely independently of each other until the merger of the PRR and NYNH&H into Penn Central Transportation in 1968 and 1969 respectively, and the establishment of Amtrak in 1971. On September 21, 1970 all New York-Boston trains but the Turboservice were rerouted into Penn Station from Grand Central, and the Turboservice was moved February 1, 1971. Amtrak, which took over intercity service on May 1, 1971, soon began running more trains through New York, partly due to poor maintenance at Sunnyside Yard.

At the same time, rail freight service in New England was declining. The February 26, 1975 Preliminary System Plan for Conrail proposed abandoning all freight on the Shore Line (NEC) between Groton, Connecticut and Hills Grove, Rhode Island. However, on March 14, the U.S. Railway Association announced that it had reevaluated the line segment and would be keeping it in operation.

The State of New York bought and the State of Connecticut leased their sections of the New Haven Line, between Woodlawn, New York and New Haven, Connecticut, from Penn Central on January 1, 1971; the Metropolitan Transportation Authority operated the line. On January 27, 1973 the State of Massachusetts bought the Attleboro/Stoughton Line in Massachusetts for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. The Regional Rail Reorganization Act of 1973 provided for Amtrak to purchase the NEC, and all other NEC trackage passed to Amtrak on April 1, 1976 with the formation of Conrail, with Conrail trackage rights on the full line. Except between New Haven and the Rhode Island/Massachusetts state line, which were sold to the Providence and Worcester Railroad, those rights remained until the 1999 breakup of Conrail, when they were split between the Norfolk Southern Railway to the south and CSX Transportation to the north. Amtrak now operates and maintains the portion in Massachusetts, but the line from New Haven to New Rochelle, New York is operated by the Metro-North Railroad; this has been a problem with establishment of high-speed service.

Northeast Corridor Improvement Project

In the 1980s, a major overhaul and improvement of the system between Washington DC and Boston was undertaken. Called NECIP, this included safety improvements, modernization of the signaling system by General Railway Signal and new CETC control centers by Chrysler at Philadelphia, New York and Boston. It allowed more trains to run faster and closer together, and set the stage for later high-speed operation. Also the most successful engine on the Corridor, the AEM-7 was introduced. This Locomotive allowed for lower travel times between cities.

Preparing for Acela Express

In preparation for the new higher-speed Acela Express trains, Amtrak substantially upgraded the portion of the Northeast Corridor north of New York in the early 1990s. Grade crossings were eliminated, some bridges were rebuilt, and curves were modified. Beginning in 1996, the electrification was extended north along the 157-mile (253 km) section of track between New Haven and Boston. Wooden sleepers (railroad ties) were replaced with those made of concrete and heavier Continuous welded rail (CWR) (replacing the Jointed track) was laid down. Train platforms south of New York, originally constructed for the Metroliner multiple-unit cars of the late 1960s, were rebuilt to accommodate the new cars. Platforms north of New York had to be constructed completely from scratch.

Predecessor NEC railroads

For a more detailed history of the Northeast Corridor, and the earlier railroads operating along it, see the following articles:New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad lines

Grade crossings

Due to the high-speed nature of the line, grade crossings have been eliminated between New York and Washington since 1976 (when Amtrak replaced the Metroliner multiple units with the locomotive-hauled Metroliners). Eleven grade crossings remain on the NEC, all of which are in southeastern Connecticut. At these crossings, preventative measures such as four-quadrant gates are used (except in New London, Connecticut, where three crossings are in close proximity to the station):

Station listing

  • Amtrak lines: AE=Acela Express, CD=Cardinal, CL=Carolinian, CPL=Capitol Limited, CS=Crescent, KS=Keystone, LS=Lake Shore Limited, NR=Northeast Regional, PA=Pennsylvanian, PL=Palmetto, SM=Silver Meteor, SS=Silver Star, VT=Vermonter (note that not all trains of that designation necessarily stop at all marked stations)
  • LIRR: Served by MTA Long Island Rail Road trains.
  • MARC: Served by MARC Penn Line trains.
  • MBTA: Served by MBTA Attleboro/Stoughton Line trains.
  • MNR: Served by MTA Metro-North Railroad New Haven Line trains.
  • NJT: Served by New Jersey Transit Northeast Corridor Line trains.
  • SEPTA: Served by SEPTA Regional Rail R7 and R2 trains.
  • SLE: Served by Connecticut Shore Line East trains.

Station Listing
State Milepost City Station Amtrak Other Connections
MA 228.7 Boston South Station AE NR LS MBTA MBTA Red Line, commuter rail to Plymouth, Middleborough
227.6 Back Bay Station AE NR LS MBTA MBTA Orange Line, commuter rail to Worcester
226.5 Ruggles MBTA MBTA Orange Line
223.7 Forest Hills MBTA MBTA Orange Line
220.3 Hyde Park MBTA
217.3 Dedham
Westwood
Route 128 AE NR MBTA MBTA commuter rail, park and ride
213.9 Canton Canton Junction MBTA MBTA commuter rail to Stoughton
210.8 Sharon Sharon MBTA
204.0 Mansfield Mansfield MBTA
196.9 Attleboro Attleboro MBTA
191.9 South Attleboro MBTA
190.8 state line Massachusetts/Rhode Island
RI 185.1 Providence Providence AE NR MBTA
Warwick T. F. Green Airport MBTA not yet open
158.1 South Kingstown Kingston NR
141.3 Westerly Westerly NR
141.1 state line Rhode Island/Connecticut
CT 132.3 Stonington Mystic NR
122.9 New London New London AE NR SLE
105.1 Old Saybrook Old Saybrook NR SLE
101.2 Westbrook Westbrook SLE
96.8 Clinton Clinton SLE
93.1 Madison Madison SLE
88.8 Guilford Guilford SLE
81.4 Branford Branford SLE
72.9 Division Post - Metro-North Railroad/Amtrak
72.7 New Haven State Street Station MNR SLE
72.3 Union Station AE NR VT MNR SLE Amtrak to Hartford and Springfield
West Haven West Haven MNR not yet open
63.3 Milford Milford MNR
59.0 Stratford Stratford MNR Metro-North to Waterbury
55.4 Bridgeport Bridgeport NR VT MNR SLE
rowspan=3|Fairfield Fairfield Metro Center MNR not yet open
50.6 Fairfield MNR
48.9 Southport MNR
47.2 Westport Green's Farms MNR
44.2 Westport MNR
42.1 Norwalk East Norwalk MNR
41.0 South Norwalk MNR Metro-North to Danbury
39.2 Rowayton MNR
37.7 Darien Darien MNR
36.2 Noroton Heights MNR
33.1 Stamford Stamford AE NR VT MNR SLE Metro-North to New Canaan
31.3 Greenwich Old Greenwich MNR
30.3 Riverside MNR
29.6 Cos Cob MNR
28.1 Greenwich MNR
26.1 state line Connecticut/New York
NY 25.7 Port Chester MNR
24.1 Rye MNR
22.2 Harrison MNR
20.5 Mamaroneck MNR
18.7 Larchmont MNR
16.6 New Rochelle NR MNR Metro-North to Grand Central
0.0 New York City Penn Station AE CD CL CS KS NR PA PL SM SS VT LIRR NJT NYCT , , , , , , Amtrak trains to Albany, Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, LIRR trains to Long Island
01.20 state line New York/New Jersey
NJ 05.00 Secaucus Secaucus Junction NJT NJT to Hoboken and northern New Jersey
07.00 Secaucus/Harrison Portal Drawbridge NJT Active Moveable Bridge over Hackensack River.
07.25 Harrison Swift NJT Junction with NJT Moris & Essex Line to Dover, Hackettstown & Gladstone and Montclair-Boonton Line to Montclair Heights, Dover and Hackettstown.
08.60/07.10 Hudson NJT Former location of Manhattan Transfer; Current junction between NJT Kearney Connection, AMT NEC NY Connecting RR and AMT NEC Penn Main Line. First Mile Post for NY Connecting RR. Second Mile Post for Penn Main Line.
08.50 Hudson Yard NJT Amtrak/NJT Yard.
08.80 Newark Dock Active Moveable Bridge over Passaic River.
09.00 Penn Station AE CD CL CS KS NR PA PL SM SS VT NJT Newark City Subway, PATH
10.00 Cliff Former '''Newark(South Street) Station. southern throat for Newark Station.|
10.80 Hunter Junction for NJT Raritan Valley Line to High Bridge and Raritan; Conrail Lehigh Valley Line and Reading Line to West Trenton.
12.00 Newark Airport KS NR NJT AirTrain.
12.60 Lane Junction for Conrail Greenville and Passaic & Harsimus Branches.
13.40 Elizabeth North Elizabeth NJT
14.50 Elizabeth (Broad Street) NJT
15.00 Elmora Interlocking Plant
15.10 South Elizabeth Closed passenger Station.
17.70 Linden Linden NJT
19.20 Rahway North Rahway NJT Closed passenger station.
19.80 Rahway NJT
20.00 Union Junction with NJT North Jersey Coast Line to Bay Head.
21.90 Woodbridge Colonia Closed passenger station.
23.00 Iselin Closed passenger station.
23.20 Metropark AE CL KS NR VT NJT Park and ride
26.20 Metuchen Metuchen NJT
26.40 Lincoln Interlocking Plant.
29.30 Edison Edison NJT
31.70 New Brunswick New Brunswick KS NR NJT
33.20 County Junction Conrail Millstone Running Track
33.10 Current Jersey Avenue Station NJT Park and ride
33.40 Old Jersey Avenue Station NJT
35.90 North Brunswick Adams Closed Passenger Station
38.90 South Brunswick Deans Closed Passenger Station
41.40 Monmouth Junction Interlocking Plant
41.60 Midway Junction with Conrail Jamesburg Branch.
47.30 Princeton Junction Nassau Junction with NJT Princeton Branch.
47.40 Princeton Junction KS NR NJT NJT Princeton Branch to Princeton.
54.0 Hamilton Township (Mercer County) PRR Division Post New Jersey/Philadelphia Divisions
53.40 Hamilton NJT
54.90 Millham Interlocking Plant.
56.80 Trenton Fair Junction for Belvedere-Delaware Secondary Track. Former junction for Bordentown Secondary Track (See NJT River Line) Current Amtrak Division Post New York and Philadelphia Divisions.
57.10 Trenton AE CD CL CS KS NR PA SM SS VT SEPTA NJT NJT River Line to Camden
57.70 state line New Jersey/Pennsylvania
PA 58.50 Morrisville Morrisville Closed passenger station
58.60 Morris Junction for Conrail Trenton Branch and Morrisville Yard.
63.6 Tullytown Levittown SEPTA
66.8 Bristol Bristol SEPTA
69.7 Bristol Township Croydon SEPTA
71.3 Bensalem Eddington SEPTA
72.5 Cornwells Heights KS NR SEPTA
74.6 Philadelphia Torresdale SEPTA
77.2 Holmesburg Junction SEPTA
78.2 Tacony SEPTA
80.1 Bridesburg SEPTA
85.1 North Philadelphia KS NR SEPTA
88.1
0
Zoo Tower
1.5 30th Street Station AE CD CL CS KS NR PA PL SM SS VT SEPTA NJ Transit to Atlantic City, Market-Frankford Line, Subway-Surface Trolleys, all SEPTA commuter rail lines, Amtrak trains to Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Chicago
University City SEPTA SEPTA to Philadelphia International Airport, Elwyn, and Delaware
6.1 Darby Darby SEPTA
6.5 Sharon Hill Curtis Park SEPTA
7.2 Sharon Hill SEPTA
7.7 Folcroft Folcroft SEPTA
8.3 Glenolden Glenolden SEPTA
9.0 Norwood Norwood SEPTA
9.7 Prospect Park Prospect Park SEPTA
10.4 Ridley Park Ridley Park SEPTA
11.1 Crum Lynne SEPTA
12.3 Eddystone Eddystone SEPTA
13.4 Chester Chester Transportation Center SEPTA
15.5 Highland Avenue Station SEPTA
16.7 Marcus Hook Marcus Hook SEPTA
18.2 state line Pennsylvania/Delaware
DE 19.6 Claymont SEPTA
26.8 Wilmington AE CD CL CS NR PL SM SS VT SEPTA
Churchmans Crossing SEPTA
38.7 Newark NR SEPTA
41.5 state line Delaware/Maryland
MD 59.5 Perryville Perryville MARC
65.5 Aberdeen Aberdeen NR MARC
75.6 Edgewood Edgewood MARC
84.2 Essex Martin State Airport MARC
95.7 Baltimore Penn Station AE CD CL CS NR PL SM SS VT MARC Maryland Transit Administration Light Rail
99.4 West Baltimore MARC
103.0 Halethorpe MARC
107.7 Linthicum BWI Airport Rail Station AE CD CL NR VT MARC
113.6 Odenton Odenton MARC
119.4 Bowie Bowie State MARC
124.7 Seabrook Seabrook MARC
126.1 New Carrollton New Carrollton NR VT MARC WMATA Orange Line, park and ride
131.4 state line Maryland/District of Columbia
DC 135.9
1.1
Washington C Tower
0.0 Union Station AE CPL CD CL CS NR PL SM SS VT MARC VRE commuter rail, WMATA Red Line, Amtrak trains to Virginia, Chicago, New Orleans, Miami

References

Sources

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