Impact of Work Cutbacks on Northeast Corridor Improvement Project

CED-81-23: Published: Oct 31, 1980. Publicly Released: Dec 1, 1980.

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The Northeast Corridor Improvement Project was initiated to improve high-speed rail passenger service between Washington, New York, and Boston. Implementation of the program is being handled primarily by the Federal Railroad Administration, but the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrack) will operate and maintain the Corridor when construction is completed.

Substantial reductions have been made in the project's planned work scope. Work is being reduced to stay within the project's budget in the face of additional cost overruns, and more reductions are possible. The project's work areas, their budgets as of March 1980, and how the reductions affect these areas were shown. Elimination of work on track structures will increase future maintenance, make it difficult to maintain the high speeds planned for the Corridor, decrease operational reliability, and diminish passenger comfort. Elimination of electrical work could result in additional future maintenance and could make high speeds difficult to maintain in hot weather. Elimination of planned fencing could result in additional fatalities. Reductions in planned bridge work would reduce the longevity and increase maintenance costs of bridges. Reductions in grade crossing work could seriously affect the safety of the public, passengers, and train crews and could result in additional future track maintenance. Reductions made in the work on stations may have adverse effects on the longevity of the structures, their maintenance, and may reduce passenger comfort and capacity. Elimination of work on route realignment, tunnels, communications, signal and traffic control, and program management and systems engineering were discussed.

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