Amtrak taps KPMG for fast-rail plan

Bloomberg News / August 24, 2011

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WASHINGTON - Amtrak, the taxpayer-supported passenger railroad, has hired KPMG LLP to assist in developing a business and financial plan to have 220-miles-per-hour service between Washington and Boston by 2040.

KPMG will lead a team of consultants that will help identify funding sources and maximize private investment, Amtrak said.

“It is a transformational project, and we have some great expectations in terms of private-sector interest,’’ Al Engel, Amtrak’s high-speed rail vice president, said at a press conference yesterday.

The study results are due in May.

Amtrak would operate the service as part of its plan, Engel said. But Representative John Mica, the Florida Republican who chairs the House Transportation Committee, has proposed transferring ownership of the Northeast Corridor from Amtrak to the Department of Transportation, which would solicit bids from investors to develop and operate high-speed service.

Amtrak on May 9 was awarded $450 million from $2 billion in US rail grants that Florida rejected to upgrade a 24-mile track segment in New Jersey and outside of Philadelphia to support trains running up to 160 miles per hour.

Amtrak’s Acela Express, its fastest train, averages 83 miles per hour in most of the Northeast Corridor but can reach a 150 miles per hour where track conditions allow that.