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Transportation

Is This High-Speed Train the First Megaproject of the Biden Era?

The president promised to go big on infrastructure. The $105 billion North Atlantic Rail plan between Boston and New York City definitely fits the bill.

A next-generation Acela train arrives in Washington, D.C., in June 2020. The North Atlantic Rail initiative proposes building a new inland line for high-speed rail, linking several New England cities.  

A next-generation Acela train arrives in Washington, D.C., in June 2020. The North Atlantic Rail initiative proposes building a new inland line for high-speed rail, linking several New England cities.  

Photographer: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

It is an audacious vision for high-speed rail in the Northeast: new tunnels out of New York City and under the Long Island Sound, routing trains up through Hartford, Providence and Boston. With electric locomotives that top 200 miles per hour, travel time between New York and Boston would be slashed to 100 minutes — two hours quicker than current Acela service, the fastest train that Amtrak now runs. Construction would consume 20 years and require building the largest underwater tunnel in North America. The price tag: $105 billion.

Conceived more than a decade ago and launched as a private initiative in 2017, the North Atlantic Rail project looks a lot like the high-speed rail networks that other parts of the world, such as Japan and France, have had for decades. Its backers hope it’s the kind of U.S. megaproject that the federal government is finally ready to pursue.