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NEC FUTURE – A Rail Investment Plan for the Northeast Corridor

Project Information
Surface Transportation
Project Type: 
Surface TransportationRailroads

The Northeast Corridor (NEC) is the rail transportation spine of the Northeast United States and is a key component of the region’s transportation system, which supports the operation of eight Regional rail authorities and Amtrak—the Intercity rail service provider—as well as four freight railroads. The NEC FUTURE program (NEC FUTURE) is a comprehensive planning effort to define, evaluate, and prioritize future investments for the NEC from Washington, D.C., to Boston (Study Area). As part of NEC FUTURE, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is evaluating passenger-rail alternatives in the Study Area to improve current and future passenger-rail transportation needs within the NEC.

The purpose of NEC FUTURE is to upgrade aging infrastructure and to improve the reliability, capacity, connectivity, performance, and resiliency of future passenger-rail service on the NEC for both Intercity and Regional trips, while promoting environmental sustainability and continued economic growth. The needs addressed by NEC FUTURE include aging infrastructure, additional capacity to accommodate growing population and employment, gaps in connectivity, compromised performance, resiliency, environmental sustainability, and economic growth.

As part of NEC FUTURE, the FRA prepared a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (Tier 1 EIS) in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 USC 4332 et seq.).  The NEPA process was complete upon release of a Record of Decision (ROD) on July 12, 2017.  The ROD documents FRA’s Selected Alternative.  The FRA is now conducting service development planning in coordination with the NEC states and railroad operators.

The Selected Alternative will be further evaluated through a series of subsequent actions (referred to as Tier 2 project studies). As appropriate, feasibility studies may be conducted prior to advancing Tier 2 projects to consider location-specific constraints and opportunities. Tier 2 project studies will provide more detailed site-specific effects assessments, engineering, and design; identify all applicable permits; and define location-specific avoidance and mitigation measures.

All project documents, including the Tier 1 Final EIS and Record of Decision, can be found on the project website at

Location: The Northeast Corridor termini are Union Station in Washington, D.C. and South Station in Boston, MA. (the study area encompasses Washington D.C., and portions of the states of Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts).

Cooperating Agencies: Federal Transit Administration

Project Timeline

Environmental Impacts Statement

  • Notice of Intent (NOI) Date: 06/22/2012
  • Initial Alternatives Report: 03/22/2013
  • Preliminary Alternatives Report: 03/22/2013
  • Preliminary Alternatives Evaluation Report: 11/2014
  • No Action Alternative Report: 04/2015
  • Tier 1 EIS Alternatives Report (amended): October 2015
  • Draft EIS (DEIS) Date: 11/13/2015
  • Final EIS (FEIS) Date: 12/23/2016
  • Supplemental Draft EIS Date: N/A
  • Supplemental Final EIS Date: N/A
  • Record of Decision (ROD): expected 2017
  • Issuance of an Amended ROD or combined Supplemental FEIS/Amended ROD: N/A
  • Permitting Milestones N/A – no permits issued as part of this program.
  • Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (All Federal agencies) –
    • Section 106 initiated with SHPOs and federally recognized tribes – June 2012
    • Draft Programmatic Agreement published for public review – 11/13/2015
    • Final Programmatic Agreement executed – 08/29/2016

Reviews, Approvals and Permits

Title Responsible Agency Responsible Agency POC Estimated Completion Status
Preliminary Alternatives Report Rebecca Reyes-Alicea 3/28/2013 Complete
Scoping Period Rebecca Reyes-Alicea 10/18/2012 Complete
Notice of Intent/Scoping Package Rebecca Reyes-Alicea 6/21/2012 Complete
Regional Resource Meetings Rebecca Reyes-Alicea 2/04/2013 Complete