Maryland Looks to Replace Reconstruction-Era Train Tunnel

The 148-year old tunnel, which slows trains to 30 miles per hour, is the biggest bottleneck between Washington, D.C. and New Jersey.

2 minute read

June 30, 2021, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Amtrak Acela

jpmueller99 / Flickr

Maryland's "decrepit Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel" could soon be getting an upgrade after "Amtrak and Maryland announced an agreement Friday on a $4 billion plan to build a replacement in the next decade." As Luz Lazo writes in the Washington Post, "[t]he 148-year-old tunnel under West Baltimore is a major bottleneck for Amtrak, Maryland’s MARC commuter trains and commercial rail traffic that moves through the Northeast Corridor." 

As "[o]ne of the oldest structures in the Northeast rail corridor, the B&P tunnel is a crucial piece of the network connecting Washington to Boston, moving more than 259 million passengers each year." But the 1.4-mile tunnel slows trains to 30 miles per hour as they pass through, making the tunnel "the biggest chokepoint between Washington and New Jersey." The tunnel also "has critical structural problems, including water issues and brick deterioration, according to a federal review of the project." The new tunnel would only accommodate electric trains, and "Maryland officials said the state agreed to electrify all MARC trains by the time the tunnel would open in as early as 2032."

"The proposal is a scaled-down version of a plan approved four years ago by the Federal Railroad Administration that called for four single-track tunnel tubes. Railroad officials say by building only two tunnels, the project will save $1 billion and up to two years on construction while still tripling train capacity to accommodate future demand." To move forward, Amtrak and state leaders must still secure state and federal funding for the project.

Friday, June 18, 2021 in The Washington Post

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