Northeast Corridor (NEC) Futures

The 735km Northeast Corridor (NEC) rail line traverses the United States' busiest and most populated region, connecting Washington DC, Baltimore MD, Philadelphia PA, New York, and Boston MA. 


  • Northeast Corridor (Washington to Boston), US


  • Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)

Project Status

  • Ongoing

Long-Term Vision for Growing the Northeast Rail Corridor

Used by over 250 million intercity and commuter passengers each year, demand for additional rail services is expected to grow significantly.  

NEC FUTURE defines how the Northeast Corridor will accommodate growth over the next 25-50 years, supporting the region’s economy and keeping it vibrant and competitive. NEC FUTURE includes a strategic plan for growth, a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement, and a Service Development Plan.


Carte du Couloir Nord-Est

Developing a Single Vision

Nine passenger railroads and four freight railroads use the NEC each day. Each has its own growth plans for the future, as well as unique types of service and equipment. In addition, capital investment in the NEC has been seriously underfunded for decades, resulting in a significant maintenance backlog and a deficit of some $20 billion simply to bring the railroad to a state of good repair.

NEC FUTURE was charged with consolidating the needs of all NEC rail operators into a single vision for modernizing the rail corridor, growing service, and implementing the improvements required to support both.

735 km 735 km
Passengers per Year
250,000,000 250,000,000
Passenger railroads
9 9

Growing the Network while Protecting the Environment

WSP, in joint venture, participated in an integrated team with the FRA to develop and inventory the long-term growth plans of all NEC stakeholders and to explore various service and infrastructure alternatives to achieve them. This included analyzing market and service options, new technologies and types of service, development of new models for analyzing travel demand and capital and operating costs, and extensive testing of rail service plans.

As alternatives were narrowed, the team undertook an extensive tier 1 environmental impact statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. This entailed extensive engagement with federal and state agencies and planning organizations across the Northeast, as well as an agreement with each state historic preservation office. The Preferred Alternative will be announced at the end of 2016 as part of the tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement, with a Record of Decision to follow in 2017.

The NEC FUTURE team will then develop a Service Development Plan that makes the case for implementing the Selected Alternative and recommends ways to expeditiously implement the program. NEC FUTURE will serve as the blueprint for corridor development and expansion for the next several decades.


Innovative Engineering

Our team delivered the following:

  • Long-term vision for expansion of the NEC

  • Implementation plan

  • Guidelines for advancing key projects and ensuring consistency of future work with the corridor-wide vision

  • Leadership role for the FRA in future decisions regarding investment on the NEC

Examples of noteworthy innovations include:

  • Corridor-wide service plan to model and test consolidating the operations of nine passenger railroads and four freight operations

  • GIS-based resources and service planning, supporting visual mapping of key issues, resources and route options

  • New NEC modal preference model encompassing intercity and regional travel demand model

  • Identification of operational efficiency enhancements that can improve rail service and operations, and reduce capital and operating costs

  • Visualizations/animations to support public meetings/hearings

  • Detailed and interactive project website (