East River Tunnel Rehabilitation Project

The tunnel is part of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor (NEC), which provides train service between Boston and Washington, DC, and is the busiest passenger rail line in the United States.

Quick Facts: East River Tunnel

Project Status

In Procurement (Design 100% as of October 2023)

Customer Benefits

  • Increased safety and service reliability through new fire detection systems
  • Reconstructed bench walls
  • New signal and power systems
  • New track and drainage
  • Modernized tunnel and rail systems infrastructure provides for reduced disruptions and maintenance costs
  • Brings infrastructure to a state of good repair

Estimated Construction Completion

Estimated 2027

Latest Milestone

Funding announcement by FRA for Fed-State Partnership grant. Main Construction Contract is currently out to bid with qualified proposers. Ongoing meetings with our operating and funding partners. Ongoing hardening work to ensure reliability of in-service tracks during shutdown.

Upcoming Milestones

Award CM contact and receive proposals for main construction contract. Start construction in early 2024.

Project Partners

Amtrak, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), New Jersey Transit, U.S. DOT Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)

Funding Sources

Amtrak, U.S. DOT FRA Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program, Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New Jersey Transit

The East River Tunnel (ERT) consists of four tubes connecting New York City to destinations east, and is used by Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), and NJ TRANSIT trains.

The tubes, which opened in 1910, require significant upgrades and comprehensive rehabilitation to modernize critical NEC infrastructure and improve reliability for a new era of rail.

The ERT Rehabilitation Project will restore the two tubes that were damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The work will modernize the tunnel infrastructure, improving safety, reliability, and security and bring the systems to a state of good repair. The project will involve demolishing the existing tunnel systems down to the concrete liners, followed by reconstructing and modernizing all tunnel systems. These include:

  • Repair of the tunnel liner;
  • Reconstruction of the bench walls in a modern, high-low configuration with new cable conduits;
  • Conversion from ballasted track to a modern, direct fixation track system;
  • Installation of new fire and smoke detection systems; and
  • Replacement of signals, traction power, standpipe, and drainage systems.

In addition to the underground locations, work also will be performed at aboveground areas in Queens. This includes upgrading the tunnel approaches and installing new signal houses and signal and traction power cables. Additional work will be performed at two ventilation facilities in Manhattan and Queens.

The ERT Rehabilitation Project is partially funded by the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). This includes funding received through the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Program. The FRA has identified the ERT Rehabilitation Project as a “Major Backlog Project” on the NEC, which makes it eligible for additional federal funding to support final design and construction through the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program.

Additional funding from the State of New York was announced in December 2021 by Senator Chuck Schumer, who facilitated an agreement in which MTA committed up to $432 million for the ERT Rehabilitation Project.


Service Impacts

During construction, Amtrak plans to maintain the majority of train service through the remaining tunnels by closing one tube at a time. Additional projects completed ahead of the major tunnel work will help mitigate potential service impacts.

Amtrak and its railroad partners will provide advance notice to customers regarding any service changes as construction approaches.

Public Documents

Scope and Benefits

  • Rehabilitation to bring the ERT to a state of good repair and extend its useful life for another 100 years
  • Installation of new track, electrical, safety, and signals systems to add resiliency and improve reliability for NEC services
  • Compliance with modern safety and egress standards
  • Jobs and economic opportunities for local residents
  • Continued service for 453 trains per day, including 42 Amtrak intercity trains and 411 LIRR commuter trains