Northeast Corridor

From Academic Kids

For the agglomeration of metropolitan areas, see article on "BosWash megalopolis"
Missing image
An Amtrak train on the NEC in New Jersey, as seen from an NJ Transit train. Note the overhead wires.

The Northeast Corridor (NEC) is an electrified railway line with overhead wires running from Washington, DC to Boston, Massachusetts, passing through Baltimore, Maryland, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Newark, New Jersey, New York, New York, New Haven, Connecticut and Providence, Rhode Island. Currently operated and mostly owned by Amtrak, the NEC offers the only true high-speed rail service in the United States (the Acela Express). Several commuter rail agencies, including MARC, SEPTA, NJ Transit, Metro-North, Shore Line East and MBTA, also provide local service along the Northeast Corridor.



The Northeast Corridor (NEC) is most notably defined today by its railway electrification system and its primary mission of facilitating passenger rail service. Many portions of today's NEC were first created as portions of small independent railroad lines, much in the same manner as the growth of railroads throughout North America occurred. By the early 20th century, what is now the NEC was controlled and developed primarily by two large railroads, the New Haven, and the Pennsylvania.

New York Terminal electrification projects

The significant electrification projects of the steam railroads in the area which is now the NEC began with the major terminals in the busy New York City area. The Grand Central Terminal project of the New York Central Railroad (NYC) was the earlier, followed by Pennsylvania Station of its arch rival, the Pennsylvania Railroad. Both terminal electrification projects were very successful. Soon, expansions of electrified territory spread outward from these major projects.

NEC northern section: New York to Boston

The expansion of New York Central's electrified territory went north and west up the Hudson River Valley, an area which is still served by electrification in modern times, but is not part of today's NEC. However, Grand Central Terminal was also served by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad (more often called simply the "New Haven").

The northern section of today's NEC was built by the New Haven to connect Grand Central Terminal in New York to Boston, Massachusetts. The entire main line from New York City to New Haven, Connecticut was being put under catenary by 1914. An electrification of the portion north of New Haven to Providence, Rhode Island and Boston, Massachusetts was also planned, but financial problems delayed the work for over 75 years, until modern times.

NEC southern section: New York to Washington DC

The Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR, often called simply "the Pennsy"), undertook a major electrification project beginning in 1928 to connect New York to Philadelphia. By 1931, the decision had been made to extend the electrification south to Washington, D.C.. The installation of the catenary and wires was completed all the way to Union Station in Washington D.C. in 1935, forming the southern section of today's NEC.

Penn Central and Amtrak: forming the NEC

The northern and southern sections were essentially joined at New York by the line of the New York Connecting Railroad through Queens and across the Hell Gate Bridge. They were operated almost entirely independently of each other until the merger of the PRR and the New Haven into Penn Central Transportation in 1968 and 1969 respectively, and the establishment of Amtrak in 1971.

Amtrak assumed ownership of most of the Northeast Corridor, which accounts for much of its ridership, from the bankrupt Penn Central in 1976. Amtrak's New York City passenger operations were moved from Grand Central Terminal and consolidated at Pennsylvania Station, which it owns.

Preparing for Acela Express

In preparation for the new higher-speed Acela Express trains, Amtrak substantially upgraded the portion of the Northeast Corridor north of New York Penn Station in the early 1990s. Grade crossings were eliminated, some bridges were rebuilt, and curves were modified. Beginning in 1996, the electrification was extended north along the 157-mile (253 km) section of track between New Haven, Connecticut and Boston, Massachusetts.

Predecessor NEC railroads

For a more detailed history of the Northeast Corridor, and the earlier railroads operating along it, see the following articles:



With primarily passenger services, the Northeast Corridor is a cooperative venture between Amtrak and various state agencies. Amtrak currently owns the Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C. and New Rochelle, New York. The segment of the NEC between New Rochelle, New York and New Haven, Connecticut is owned by the Metro North Railroad. Amtrak also owns the section between New Haven, Connecticut and the Rhode Island-Massachusetts state line. However, the final northern segment (in Massachusetts) is owned by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.


Amtrak owns Pennsylvania Station in New York, 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, and Union Station in Washington.

Current Amtrak Service

As of mid-December 2004, 55 round-trip Amtrak trains use the busiest part of the Corridor, between New York and Philadelphia, every weekday, with an extra one on Wednesday and Friday (Cardinal). 349 round trips use this part per week.

The following Amtrak lines run along the Northeast Corridor:

Non-Amtrak Commuter Rail Services

In addition to Amtrak, several commuter rail agencies operate passenger service using the Northeast Corridor tracks. These are:

Many other bus and rail commuter services interchange passengers with Amtrak and these commuter agencies at stations along the Northeast Corridor.

Grade crossings

Due to the high-speed nature of Acela Express service, which uses the whole line, grade crossings are highly discouraged, and most have been eliminated. The remaining ones use preventative measures such as four-quadrant gates, except in New London, Connecticut, whose three crossings are very close to the station.

The following 11 crossings remain, all in southeastern Connecticut:

Station listing

  • Amtrak lines: AE=Acela Express, CD=Cardinal, CK=Clocker, CL=Carolinian, CS=Crescent, KS=Keystone, LS=Lake Shore Limited, ML=Metroliner, PA=Pennsylvanian, PL=Palmetto, RG=Regional, SM=Silver Meteor, SS=Silver Star, VT=Vermonter (note that not all trains of that designation necessarily stop at all marked stations)
  • MARC: Served by MARC Penn Line trains.
  • MBTA: Served by MBTA Attleboro-Stoughton Line trains.
  • MTA: Served by MTA Metro-North Railroad New Haven Line trains.
  • NJT: Served by New Jersey Transit Northeast Corridor Line trains.
  • SEPTA: Served by SEPTA Regional Rail R7 and R2 trains.
  • SLE: Served by Connecticut Shore Line East trains.
State Milepost City Station Amtrak Other Connections
MABostonSouth StationAE RG LSMBTAMBTA Red Line, commuter rail to Plymouth, Middleborough
Back Bay StationAE RG LSMBTAMBTA Orange Line, commuter rail to Worcester
226RugglesMBTAMBTA Orange Line
223.5Forest HillsMBTA
220.5Hyde ParkMBTA
Route 128AE RGMBTA
214CantonCanton JunctionMBTAMBTA commuter rail to Stoughton
192South AttleboroMBTA
190.5state line
RIProvidenceProvidenceAE RGMBTA
WarwickT. F. Green AirportMBTAnot yet open
South KingstownKingstonRG
New LondonNew LondonAE RGSLE
Old SaybrookOld SaybrookRGSLE
New HavenState Street StationMTASLE
Union StationAE RG VTMTASLEAmtrak to Hartford and Springfield
StratfordStratfordMTAMetro-North to Waterbury
BridgeportBridgeportRG VTMTASLE
WestportGreen's FarmsMTA
NorwalkEast NorwalkMTA
South NorwalkMTAMetro-North to Danbury
Noroton HeightsMTA
StamfordStamfordAE RG VTMTASLEMetro-North to New Canaan
GreenwichOld GreenwichMTA
Cos CobMTA
NYPort ChesterMTA
New RochelleRGMTAMetro-North to Grand Central
0New York CityPenn StationAE CD CK CL CS KS ML PA PL RG SM SS VTNJTLong Island Rail Road, NYCT A, C, E, 1, 2, 3, 9, Amtrak trains to Albany, Montreal, Toronto, Chicago
NJ5SecaucusSecaucus JunctionNJTNJT to Hoboken and northern New Jersey
KearnyKearny JunctionNJT joins from Hoboken Terminal
8.5NewarkPenn StationAE CD CK CL CS KS ML PA PL RG SM SS VTNJTNewark City Subway, PATH
10.5CP HunterNJT Raritan Valley Line splits to High Bridge
Newark AirportCK KS RGNJTAirTrain
13ElizabethNorth ElizabethNJT
20Perth Amboy JunctionNJT North Jersey Coast Line splits to Bay Head
WoodbridgeMetroparkAE CK CL KS ML RG VTNJT
31.5New BrunswickNew BrunswickCK KS RGNJT
Jersey Avenue StationNJT
47.4West WindsorPrinceton JunctionCK KS ML RGNJTNJT Princeton Branch to Princeton
57.1TrentonTrentonAE CD CK CL CS KS ML PA RG SM SS VTSEPTANJT NJT River LINE to Camden
57.7state line
69.7Bristol TownshipCroydonSEPTA
72.5Cornwells HeightsCK KS RGSEPTA
77.2Holmesburg JunctionSEPTA
85.1North PhiladelphiaCK KS RGSEPTA
Zoo Tower
1.530th Street StationAE CD CK CL CS KS ML PA PL RG SM SS VTSEPTANJ Transit to Atlantic City, Market-Frankford Line, SEPTA to Philadelphia suburbs, Amtrak trains to Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Chicago
University CitySEPTASEPTA to Philadelphia International Airport
6.5Sharon HillCurtis ParkSEPTA
7.2Sharon HillSEPTA
9.7Prospect ParkProspect ParkSEPTA
10.4Ridley ParkRidley ParkSEPTA
11.1Crum LynneSEPTA
13.4ChesterChester Transportation CenterSEPTA
15.5Highland Avenue StationSEPTA
16.7Marcus HookMarcus HookSEPTA
18.2state line
Churchmans CrossingSEPTA
41.5state line
84.2Martin AirportMARC
95.7BaltimorePenn StationAE CD CL CS ML PL RG SM SS VTMARCMaryland Transit Administration light rail
99.4West BaltimoreMARC
107.7LinthicumBWI Rail StationAE CD CL ML RG VTMARCMaryland Transit Administration light rail
119.4BowieBowie StateMARC
126.1New CarrolltonNew CarrolltonRG VTMARCWMATA Orange Line
131.4state line
WashingtonC Tower
0.0Union StationAE CD CL CS ML PL RG SM SS VTMARCVRE commuter rail, WMATA Red Line, Amtrak trains to Virginia, Chicago, New Orleans, Miami
See Silver Service/Palmetto for continuation south



  • Middleton, William D. (1974) When The Steam Railroads Electrified (1st ed.). Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Kalmbach Publishing Co. ISBN 0-89024-028-0

Other Sources

Template:New Jersey Transit


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