Amtrak Begins Rehab Project at Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel

A critical step until
tunnel is replaced

BALTIMORE – Amtrak continues to advance efforts to improve
infrastructure along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) by launching a pilot project focused
on rehabilitating the 147-year-old Baltimore & Potomac (B&P) Tunnel. The
project will undertake preventive maintenance work that is critical to keep the
tunnel in good working condition. Plans are in progress to build a new tunnel
to replace the existing tunnel under the City of Baltimore.

Work will begin in early February. Crews will replace 1,000
feet of track slab and block ties and renew track inside the tunnel that have
deteriorated due to age and water infiltration. This work will take place over
eight weekends, with minimal service impacts. This pilot project will allow Amtrak’s
Engineering Department to evaluate viable options to improve the reliability of
the B&P Tunnel.

“This preventive
maintenance work is necessary, but it is not a silver bullet,” Amtrak VP, Chief
Engineer Gery Williams said. “Due to its age along with growing ridership
demand, full replacement of the tunnel, with a new four track tunnel system
improving reliability, capacity and connectivity, is the only long-term

The two-track tunnel, which opened in 1873, is located
between the West Baltimore MARC and Baltimore Penn stations and is used by
Amtrak, Maryland’s MARC Commuter trains and Norfolk Southern Railway freight

Due to its age, the tunnel is approaching the end of its
useful life. Its obsolete design creates a low-speed bottleneck on this
high-traffic section of the Northeast Corridor. In 2017, after the completion
of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the Federal Railroad Administration
issued a Record of Decision for a new four-track tunnel system to replace the
existing B&P Tunnel.

Amtrak is currently undertaking a series of design
modifications that will reduce the overall capital cost of the project for the
new tunnels as well as mitigating certain constituency and neighborhood
concerns identified through the EIS. This is a major back-log project estimated
at $5 billion.

Amtrak will continue to work with its partners, including
federal, state and local stakeholders, to finalize a financing plan. In the
interim Amtrak will continue to advance the design phase past 30%. The new
tunnels are a 12 to 15-year project.

The NEC is the busiest railroad in North America, with
approximately 2,200 Amtrak, commuter and freight trains operating over some
portion of the electrified Washington-Boston route each day.

More information on B&P
is available on the Ready to Build web site.