skip to content

Amtrak High-Speed Rail Improvement Project

Constant tension overhead catenary is making high-speed rail faster.
  • Amtrak High-Speed Rail Improvement Project-Gannett Fleming

    Coordinating the components from the constant tension catenary system is advancing the standardization of Amtrak’s entire East Coast operation.


Northeast Corridor

Our Role
Preliminary Design, Final Design.

24 miles
Construction Cost
$450 million
In progress
  • Train speeds up to 160 mph on constant tension catenary, the highest speed attainable in the U.S.

Amtrak’s 30-year incremental plan that started in 2010 will introduce more trains operating at higher speeds, improve infrastructure, and enhance safety for the vital component of the Northeast transportation system known as the Northeast Corridor (NEC). The NEC is the 457-mile-long main rail artery connecting Washington D.C., with Boston. It is one of the most heavily traveled rail corridors in the world, with more than 2,200 passenger trains and 50 freight trains running daily. The NEC already has an established high-speed passenger rail service – the Acela Express. As the only high-speed train in North America, Acela trains zip between Washington D.C., and Boston at 135 miles per hour (mph). By 2040, trains are planned to speed through the region at 220 mph, cutting travel time from six hours to three and almost tripling capacity for potential ridership.

Improvements to the NEC will be implemented incrementally, starting with a 24-mile corridor between Trenton, New Jersey, and New Brunswick, New Jersey, also known as the New Jersey Raceway. This railroad line is already considered the fastest on the continent, with Acela Express trains reaching speeds of 135 mph on its variable-tension catenary.

What We Did

Gannett Fleming is providing catenary and signal design services.

Key Features

  • Unique overhead catenary system with secondary support wire to allow for additional ampacity
  • Intricate service outage schedule will allow for one track per year to be removed from service for a 10-month duration
  • Specifications book developed to document standards for all of Amtrak’s high-speed catenary system, covering typical designs, hardware, components, structures, and structural details. 

Sustainability Features & Outcomes

  • Line capacity tripled by 2040.

Similar Projects: Transit & Rail Systems: Catenary, Engineering, Transit & Rail: Railroad, Transit & Rail Systems: Signaling and Train Control, Transportation: Transit & Rail, Transit & Rail: Transit & Rail Systems, Transportation, Engineering: Transportation