High Speed Rail Empire Corridor Program Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Released
FRA signed the Tier I Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on February 2, 2023 – a Notice of Availability appeared in the Federal Register on February 17, 2023
NYSDOT and FRA selected Alternative 90B from the 2014 Draft EIS as the Preferred Alternative. The installation of over 370 miles of dedicated third and fourth passenger tracks west of Schenectady under Alternative 90B will add capacity and provide the ability to route passenger trains around freight trains even while passenger trains operate at higher speeds. Alternative 90B, would have an average speed that would be 10 mph faster than the Base Alternative between New York City and Niagara Falls and would result in a 1½ hour savings in travel time. Alternative 90B would result in the best on-time performance for Amtrak service in 2035 and, at the same time, would involve the least delay-minutes per 100 train miles operated for freight trains of the alternatives considered. Alternative 90B would also result in one of the lowest trip times for freight between Selkirk Yard, outside Albany, and Buffalo. The subsidy for the Preferred Alternative, Alternative 90B, would be $13 per rider, which would be lower than both Alternative 125’s subsidy per rider of $14 and the Base and 90A Alternatives’ subsidy per rider of $17 per rider.
View & Download the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Appendices
by clicking on the links below...
Volume 1 – Final Environmental Impact Statement, which includes:
- Cover Sheet, Signature Page, Table of Contents, and Executive Summary
- Chapter 1 – Introduction and Purpose and Need
- Chapter 2 – Existing Transportation Conditions and Major Markets
- Chapter 3 – Alternatives
- Chapter 4 – Social, Economic, and Environmental Considerations
- Chapter 5 – Financial Capacity
- Chapter 6 – Comparison of Alternatives
- Chapter 7 – Comments and Coordination
- Glossary of Terms
- List of Preparers
Volume 2 – Appendix A
Volume 3 – Appendices B - H
- Appendix B – Ridership and Revenue Forecasting
- Appendix C – Alternatives Development and Screening Report
- Appendix D – Rail Network Operations Simulation
- Appendix E – Existing Transportation Conditions Supporting Documentation
- Appendix F – Capital, Operating and Maintenance Costs Estimating Methodology
- Appendix G – Environmental Inventory and Impact Assessment
- Appendix H – Service Development Plan (This section contains the most detailed program information)
Volume 4 – Appendices I - J
Volume 5 – Appendices K
Is ALT 90B "High Speed Rail"?
No, ALT 90B is not High-Speed Rail (HSR) by most widely accepted international definitions (the US Federal Government has several) which define High Speed Rail as an high-frequency intercity passenger service with operational top speeds of 125-to-220mph (200-350 kilometers per hour) over upgrade or newly build track, for example Amtrak's Acela Express service over the upgraded BosWash Northeast Corridor, the French TGV which travels over long segments of dedicated high-speed line, and the Japanese Shinkansen "Bullet Train" which was built as a new rail system separate from the nation's existing rail system starting in the 1960s.
ALT 90B with its 90-mph top speed and 60-mph average speed west of Schenectady is on the lower end of Higher Speed Rail (HrSR) — which involves large upgrades to existing rail lines allowing for significant increased frequency of service and reduced travel times. An example of the high end of HrSR (or the low-end of HSR) is the privately built and operated Maimi-Orlando 'Brightline' service which mostly travels Miami-Cocoa over the existing upgraded freight tracks of the Florida East Coast Railway at speeds of 80-to-110mph, with a 35-mile segment of new 125-mph passenger dedicated track built on surplus highway right-of-way of the SR528 Beachline Expressway to Orlando International Airport. With full-service Miami-Orlando planned to start in the second quarter of 2023, Brightline with hourly trains will travel the 235 miles between Miami-Orlando in 3 hours, an average speed of 78mph.
ALT 90B 'Conceptual' Timetable
Important Note: Additional service would be phased in over the course of the 25-year program buildout. The first of the additional trains operating west of Schenectady is projected to start operating in year 10 of the program, with full additional service to be offered by the end of the 25-year buildout.