Amtrak seeks partner for B&P tunnel programme

B&P tunnel replacement programme Under the B&P tunnel replacement programme, Amtrak has announced a new model for the delivery partner which will have to take on substantial risk-sharing, impacting overall project outcomes. More than two dozen industry leaders responded to Amtrak’s recent Request for Information (RFI), which invited feedback on use of the Delivery Partner model.

“Amtrak received strong industry response to the Delivery Partner RFI, demonstrating a significant appetite for a private partner with ‘skin in the game’ to ensure a successful project delivery. Timely advancement of this programme is critical as we work to modernise and transform the Northeast Corridor, reducing delays and adding capacity for the future,” Amtrak’s Vice President, Programme Development & Project Services, Tony Ryan said.

Solicitation for the delivery partner is expected to launch in January 2023. The delivery partner engagement complements the construction manager at risk (CMAR) for the first phase of the programme, the Southern Approach, which is already in the Request for Proposal (RFP) stage of procurement. The Southern Approach CMAR solicitation includes the new ADA-compliant West Baltimore MARC station, all major excavation for the approach to the south portal for the new tunnel and bridge construction and some utility and road work.

This CMAR procurement represents the first major project procurement since Amtrak was awarded the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) funding. This is Amtrak’s first use of the CMAR alternate delivery method, which will improve project delivery time and allow design, pre-construction and pricing work to proceed simultaneously. Collaboration on the design offers an opportunity for innovation and reduces the risk to Amtrak for substantial changes to the scope of work later.

In partnership with the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA), the B&P Tunnel Replacement Programme will replace the existing B&P Tunnel with the new Frederick Douglass Tunnel. As part of the larger strategy to increase capacity and reliability on the Northeast Corridor, the existing B&P Tunnel will be dedicated to freight service, and the new Frederick Douglass Tunnel will be focused solely on passenger service.

Once complete, the new tunnel system will improve travel times for approximately 9 million passengers each year who rely on the Northeast Corridor for service, including Amtrak Acela, Northeast Regional, and long-distance trains, as well as the MARC Penn Line.

Future construction packages for the programme will be announced in 2023. This will include one tunnel package for the twin bore tunnel construction work, featuring two parallel tunnels, each containing a single rail track.

The existing 2.2 km B&P Tunnel, located in Baltimore is 150 years old and is a single point of failure for MARC’s busiest line – the Penn Line, and the Northeast Corridor (NEC). The tunnel connects Baltimore’s Penn Station to Washington and Virginia, and suffers from a variety of age-related issues such as excessive water infiltration, a deteriorating structure, and a sinking floor. Due to its age, delays are chronic – more than 10% of weekday trains are delayed, and delays occur on 99% of weekdays. The B&P Tunnel must be replaced to meet the needs of the 9 million MARC and Amtrak passengers who rely on it annually.

The B&P Tunnel Replacement Programme will modernise and transform a 6.5 km section of the Northeast Corridor. It includes two new high-capacity tubes for electrified passenger trains, new road and rail bridges, new rail systems and track, and a new ADA-accessible West Baltimore MARC station.

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