Images: Amtrak begin B&P tunnel replacement programme

Amtrak’s B&P Tunnel Replacement Programme aims to boost future train speed, capacity and ride quality on the Northeast Corridor.

B&P tunnel train

Credit: Amtrak

Amtrak is ready to begin early construction activities as part of the B&P Tunnel Replacement Programme. The first project is set to kick off on 10 March in the Halethorpe and West Baltimore areas. The work includes replacing aging wooden ties with new concrete ties, installing new rail and completing track drainage improvements.

“This initial project will directly reduce impacts during later construction phases and maximise the benefits of the new Frederick Douglass Tunnel with higher track speeds and greater system capacity,” Laura Mason Amtrak Executive Vice President, Capital Delivery, said. “Our partners at the Federal Railroad Administration recognise the importance and urgency of this project and have provided $8 million in key funding to help us complete this critical infrastructure work. We are also grateful to Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and the state of Maryland for their partnership and support.”

Credit: Amtrak

This project is funded by a grant from the FY 2019 Federal-State Partnership for the State of Good Repair Programme. These upgrades will enable high‐speed operations on all four tracks along this track segment.

“The collaboration between the state of Maryland, Amtrak, our federal partners and Baltimore is making the long-awaited replacement of the B&P Tunnel a reality,” Paul J. Wiedefeld, Maryland Transportation Secretary, said. “This initial work by Amtrak is laying the foundation for the new Frederick Douglass Tunnel, and will help us improve mobility, access and service for riders throughout the region.”

Credit: Amtrak

The overnight work associated with track and tie replacement will take place on Track A from Winans to Bridge interlockings and is not expected to impact rail service. Bridge interlocking is located north of West Baltimore Station and Winans interlocking is at the south end of Halethorpe Station. This first phase of the project is targeted for completion early this summer, with additional project work related to the replacement of an existing turnout in Winans with a new high-speed turnout in a future phase.

At nearly 150 years old, the B&P Tunnel is Amtrak’s oldest tunnel on the Northeast Corridor and a single point of failure for both MARC and Amtrak trains. The 1.4-mile tunnel, connecting Baltimore to Washington D.C., suffers from a variety of age-related issues such as excessive water infiltration, a deteriorating structure and delays that impact more than 10% of weekday trains.

Credit: Amtrak

The $6 billion programme will eventually be advanced by Amtrak and its partners by utilising federal funding provided by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). The programme is comprised of several investment projects to construct new bridges, rail systems and track, an ADA-accessible West Baltimore MARC station and the new Frederick Douglass Tunnel, which will include two new high-capacity tubes for electrified passenger trains.