Top Railway Projects in the US

Railway mega projects construction US

There’s currently a major opportunity for railway construction projects in the United States, thanks to increasing infrastructure funding and support from citizens.  

Data cited by Amtrak indicates that 75% of US consumers believe we should shift more trips to passenger rail to reduce transportation's impact on climate change. What's more, almost half of Americans (46%) are in favor of increasing investments in passenger rail.

And despite facing challenges like high project costs and longer turnaround times, the railway sector in the US continues to grow. expects railway project spending to grow from $106.2 billion this year to $114.3 billion in 2023.

In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the most notable railway projects in the US. Check them out!

Seattle, Washington: Sound Transit

To say that Sound Transit 3 (ST3) is an ambitious initiative would be an understatement. This $54 billion light-rail project adds 62 miles of new light rail and 37 more stations to create a 116-mile regional transit system in Seattle. The program consists of over 20 projects that would be completed from 2019 through 2041. 

In addition to the large distance covered by the project, ST3 involves highly sophisticated engineering work. For instance, certain sections of the transit line must be installed on top of a floating moving bridge that runs through a massive lake. Some of the elevated tracks would also be situated in earthquake-prone areas and thus need to be built and reinforced to comply with highly rigorous safety standards.

Have a look at the video below, which sheds light on the details of ST3 and what it would take to complete it. 


California: High Speed Rail

Over in California, the High Speed Rail Authority is building the state’s first high-speed train transit system which will connect the mega-regions of the state. Capable of speeds of up to more than 200 miles per hour, the system will be able to take passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in less than three hours. 

As of 2022, the project has completed all the major design elements for the 119-mile Central Valley Segment and the California Rail Authority intends to advance designs for several other stations in the area. 

California’s high-speed rail project will eventually extend to San Diego and Sacramento and would total 800 miles and 24 stations. 

New York East Side Access

East Side Access (ESA) is a New York City public works project designed to connect the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) to Grand Central Terminal on Manhattan’s East Side.

Scheduled to be operational by December 2022, the project involves constructing a new terminal that contains eight tracks and four platforms. The station will have two levels and sit more than 100 feet below street level.

Upon completion, ESA is expected to serve around 162,000 commuters a day. The terminal will reduce or eliminate the need for subway transfers and will lower commute times into Manhattan by about 40 minutes. It’s also expected to reduce vehicular traffic and improve air quality in the area.

Chicago, Illinois: CTA’s Red/Purple Line Modernization 

Sections of the Red and Purple lines in Chicago consist of 9.6 miles of tracks that were built back in 1924. Because of its age, the infrastructure for the Red and Purple lines requires frequent (and costly) maintenance and repair. Moreover, the Red Line has hit its capacity; being the busiest “L” line in Chicago, it’s becoming difficult to keep up with the transit needs of the area’s growing population.

To address these issues, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is carrying out the Red-Purple Modernization project, which involves completely rebuilding the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn, and Bryn Mawr stations, as well as all the tracks and structures surrounding the terminals.

The project also involves building a Red-Purple Bypass north of Belmont station where Red, Purple, and Brown Line trains currently intersect. This will remove the need for trains to stop and wait for other trains to cross, ultimately enabling the CTA to increase the number of trains, minimize crowds, and serve commuters better.

Texas: Texas Central

The Texas Central project is a high-speed train line that connects North Texas and Greater Houston, with one stop in Brazos Valley. The high-speed train, which can reach speeds of over 200 miles an hour, will enable commuters to travel back and forth between Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth in less than 90 minutes. 

Approximately 240 miles, this rail line will offer departures every 30 minutes during rush hour, and will have trains departing every 60 minutes during non-peak periods. Texas Central expects to have an eight-car train that can seat around 400 people. It will operate on closed tracks and will be fully dedicated to transporting passengers.

As for the train stations, the project includes three terminals: the North Texas Station in Dallas, the Brazos Valley Station in Grimes County, and the Houston Station.

Leverage innovative tools for your infrastructure and railway projects

Large-scale infrastructure projects such as railways are some of the most important yet challenging initiatives you can undertake. That’s why it’s essential to have a sophisticated platform that enables teams to manage and track the multiple moving parts of these projects.

Autodesk Construction Cloud helps government agencies, contractors, and consultants win and implement projects safely and efficiently. With tools to support communication, finance, design, and more, Autodesk helps you keep your projects on budget and within schedule while minimizing risk at the same time. 

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Grace Ellis

As Manager of Content Marketing Strategy at Autodesk and Editor in Chief of the Digital Builder Blog, Grace has nearly 15 years of experience creating world-class content for technology firms. She has been working within the construction technology space for the last 6+ years and is passionate about empowering industry professionals with cutting-edge tools and leading strategies that improve the quality of their jobs and lives.