City and Regional Planning

Making High-Speed Rail Work the Northeast Megaregion

Studio 2010

If the United States Northeast Megaregion is to grow and prosper, its cities and states must work together to become a single, globally competitive economic powerhouse. This report outlines a bold new proposal for world-class high-speed rail in the Northeast Corridor, which will transform the economic geography of the whole Northeast.

By creating two dedicated high-speed rail (HSR) tracks from Boston to Washington, the Northeast Corridor will achieve significant improvements in capacity, reliability, and travel times. Simultaneously addressing system-wide congestion and intercity connectivity, this new HSR network will sustain the Northeast's role as the country's premier economic and cultural driver.

Proposed new HSR service will cut travel times in half, with one-and-a half hour service between New York and Washington, DC, and one-hour-45-minute service between New York and Boston. It will enable a six-fold increase in the frequency of intercity service and a ten-fold increase in the capacity of the system. This enhanced network will translate to improved connectivity for the Northeast's global cities-the anchors of New York, Washington, Philadelphia, and Boston-and increased potential for other cities along the corridor. This report proposes that new HSR stations be built in several underperforming areas of the Northeast, including downtown Baltimore, Philadelphia and Hartford, Conn., and several places on Long Island. It also brings every "cold" market city in the corridor within an hour's travel time of Boston, New York or Washington, the Northeast's "hot"-market centers. In so doing, this proposal creates the opportunity to bring all of these places into the Northeast's economic mainstream.