Amtrak High-Speed Rail Corridor Study

National Railroad Passenger Corporation

Objective

Support the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) in advancing a Congressionally supported vision for high-speed rail (HSR) by assessing the current status of HSR in the U.S. through the development of objective criteria for the measurement of success and the evaluation of the HSR readiness of key rail development corridors.

Our Approach

Cambridge Systematics led a team that:

  • Interviewed officials from Amtrak, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), and leaders of state agencies responsible for development of the statutorily designated HSR corridors.
  • Documented the history, plans, and current standing of all the HSR corridors, based on the interviews matched by research and literature review.
  • Summarized these findings in the report and included this information in appendices as corridor fact sheets.
  • Compared corridors using descriptive and evaluation criteria.
  • Identified major lessons learned through corridor development.
  • Recommended what kind of conditions – Federal and state – would facilitate HSR development in the future.

Project Results

The study, titled "High-Speed Rail: A National Perspective," provides a broad-based, national review of U.S. experience with HSR. It identifies successes and failures, critical success factors, recurring challenges and obstacles; provides a comparative evaluation of individual corridor opportunities applying both quantitative and qualitative criteria in a consistent, rigorous manner; and identifies and characterizes the most promising HSR corridors in terms of readiness for implementation and ability to overcome identifiable challenges.

Most of the states whose corridors were identified in the study as those making the most progress were the states that received the largest grant awards under the FRA’s January 2010 awards of $8 billion in HSR funding appropriated through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The report also offers valuable insights to states that are planning intercity passenger rail programs in response to the creation of a Federal/state funding program for high-speed and intercity passenger rail.