The 141-year-old Baltimore and Potomac (B&P) Tunnel is a major bottleneck on the Northeast Corridor, but Amtrak, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) are conducting a study to examine alternatives to improve or replace the tunnel.
The two-track B&P Tunnel is used by Amtrak, Maryland’s MARC Commuter Rail trains and Norfolk Southern freight trains. The track geometry of the outdated tunnel creates a low-speed bottleneck impacting approximately 85 Amtrak trains, 57 MARC commuter trains and one to two freight trains each day.
When the project began last Fall, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said “We’re taking the first step toward upgrading rail traffic through this Civil War era tunnel, which will improve passenger rail service along the entire East Coast.”
“The B&P tunnel is a crucial link on the Northeast Corridor making Amtrak and MARC service possible through the city of Baltimore,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman. “As owners and stewards of this vital piece of infrastructure, we know that a new or rehabilitated tunnel is what we need to maintain and ultimately improve reliability, speed and safety for all trains — Amtrak, MARC and others — that use it.”
The $60 million federally funded study will include range of rehabilitation alternatives and options for a new tunnel on new alignment. The study is moving into a new phase with expanded public outreach and opportunities for stakeholders to learn more about the project’s purpose and need and comment on alternatives.