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Analysis of the Benefits of High-Speed Rail on the Northeast Corridor

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On July 1, we released our analysis of the benefits of high speed rail (HSR) on the Northeast Corridor (NEC). The objectives of our review were to: (1) estimate the revenue and congestion relief benefits associated with different levels of HSR on the NEC and (2) determine whether HSR would pay for itself through increased revenues, congestion relief, or a combination of the two. Additionally, we sought to estimate the consumer surplus provided by different levels of HSR on the NEC.
The benefits from HSR achieving 3–hour service between Boston and New York and 2 1/2–hour service between New York and Washington would exceed the expenditures required to implement it. A sizeable share of air travelers along the NEC would switch to HSR if it achieved those travel times, thereby providing some relief to the area’s congested airspace. In addition, the investments required to reach those travel times would significantly benefit NEC commuter and freight rail services. Our analysis also showed that should travel times decrease further, the resulting benefits from HSR would grow at an increasing rate.