BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The nation’s rail infrastructure is outdated and, in some places, literally falling apart.
Linh Bui takes a deep look at one major trouble area.
The repair backlog is already in the tens of billions of dollars.
Deep inside the 106-year-old Hudson River Tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey, the concrete is cracked and crumbling. After Superstorm Sandy flooded the tunnel, the situation became urgent.
“This salt is eating away at the concrete. It’s eating away at the rails; it’s eating away at the cables that go through here for power,” said Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman.
Boardman calls it one of the most glaring examples of aging railroad infrastructure in the US.
“This is the busiest corridor in the Western Hemisphere and we got here because we didn’t maintain our infrastructure,” Boardman said.
Every day, about 230,000 riders pass through it. The tunnel has been plagued by power failures—the power cables are 80 years old—causing shutdowns and massive delays for days.
The repair backlog for 457 miles of rail from Boston to Washington DC alone is $20 billion. Aging infrastructure has also contributed to deadly derailments.
In May 2015, Amtrak 188, traveling more than two times the 50 miles per hour speed limit, jumped the tracks in Philadelphia. Eight people were killed and more than 200 injured.
Thousands of miles of railway lacked technology that can automatically slow the speeding trains.
“It takes time to make sure it works right,” Boardman said.
If positive train control were in place across the nation, it would prevent an estimated 30 train accidents a year.