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New high-speed bullet train project plans to connect Boston and New York City

An Acela train. A new rail construction plan aims to construct a bullet train between Boston and New York City. COURTESY OF DAS48 VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

A massive new rail construction plan, the North Atlantic Rail Initiative, has plans to build a new bullet train route between Boston and New York City while upgrading and expanding rail infrastructure throughout New England, within the next decade. 

“It would make the region far more accessible,” said John Flaherty, deputy director of Grow Smart Rhode Island. “We’re talking about really linking a lot of the post industrial cities that have been left behind from the economic growth that’s happened in the last half century.”

According to the North Atlantic Rail website, the company requires an initial $105 billion to build the top priority projects and that it would be completed “within a 20-year period,” said Bob Yaro, president of North Atlantic Rail.

Yaro said this plan will help address many problems in the Northeast, including congestion, high housing prices and climate concerns.

“This rail network is designed to address all of those concerns and also to promote the economic vitality, particularly of cities and portions of the mega region that have been left out of prosperity the last 50 years,” Yaro said.

Grow Smart Rhode Island, an organization promoting the state’s effort for sustainability, is one of 28 public supporters of the North Atlantic Rail Project. Flaherty said this kind of project will help push industrial cities’ transition into the changing economy.

“It is a very ambitious proposal,” Flaherty said. “But, compared to what the rest of the world is doing when it comes to passenger rail, we have a lot of catching up to do.”

The High Speed 1 railway in London and the Shinkansen bullet trains in Japan are examples of developed, high-speed transportation methods that supporters said the United States needs to model.

Flaherty said having a nearby high-speed rail connection gives workers the opportunity to live farther from work, offering more “affordability.”

“Commuting into a distant office once or twice a week makes it possible for somebody to live almost anywhere in the seven state region and get to New York or Boston or Toronto,” Yaro said. “So that just opens up a world of new housing opportunities.”

As many people struggle with high housing costs in big cities, Flaherty said this plan would help create housing and “revitalize” smaller communities through “transit oriented development.”

For instance, in Pawtucket, a new train station just opened that will be followed by a new 180 unit apartment complex adjacent to the station, Flaherty said.

“That’s how we think that communities are going to become more revitalized and done so in a thoughtful way that acknowledges that the era of car dependency could be over,” Flaherty said.

COVID-19 is another factor that has made it difficult to live in densely populated areas, wrote Vincent Albanese, executive director of New York State Laborers’ Political Action Committee, in an email. A new rail could allow for residents of “outlying communities” to still work in such cities.

Aside from these numerous economic benefits, Yaro said more rail transport would support sustainable transportation by reducing carbon emissions in the Northeast.

“One of the big [benefits] is the elimination of short haul flights in the region,” Yaro said. “It’s tens of millions of pounds of carbon a year that would be eliminated, just through that action alone.” 

While the North Atlantic Rail initiative is still in its developmental phase, it has already garnered support from dozens of organizations, nonprofits and 23 members of congress. 

“The kind of vision that outlines the North Atlantic Rail really requires the entire region to come together, pull its resources and agree on a common vision,” Flaherty said.

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  1. Who would ride on that? We have all these train derailments all over the country and honestly the worst train system in the entire world. You want to put a bullet train out there.? That seems a little bit ridiculous

    • Stop being a suck ass. What is needed is to invest in the infrastructure and make it modern and set side money to maintain it. It isn’t a business – it isn’t going to make money and gouge you like the airlines. Also lots of issues with air travel the last year, why don’t we just all walk.

      Stop being part of the problem.

    • It wouldn’t go on the infrastructure as it is now. Our current infrastructure is incapable of high speed trains faster than something like 40 mph anyway. The 105bn investment would include complete modernization and electrification of railways. Also, the train derailments are because of both a lack of investment and because of a prioritization of profit over safety by railway companies. Rail should be state-owned, just like roads are, because companies always choose profit over safety/efficiency.