Amtrak completes construction of third track between Wilmington and Newark

Amtrak chief executive Bill Flynn (left) and U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., both hailed the completion of the project that added a third track along a 1 1/2-mile stretch from Wilmington to Newark. (Cris Barrish/WHYY)

Amtrak chief executive Bill Flynn (left) and U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., both hailed the completion of the project that added a third track along a 1 1/2-mile stretch from Wilmington to Newark. (Cris Barrish/WHYY)

Amtrak has added a third track along a 1.5-mile stretch in Delaware between Wilmington and Newark, bringing to fruition a $71 million project that has been nearly two decades in the making.

The new electrified track will ease what for years has been a two-track bottleneck that slowed railway traffic for travelers and freight on the Northeast Corridor that runs from Boston to Washington. More than 100 Amtrak trains and 10 from SEPTA pass through Wilmington every day.

So Amtrak and Delaware officials were delighted Monday about the completion of the project that included the rebuilding of the Shipley Street Bridge in Wilmington.

U.S. Senator Tom Carper, a frequent Amtrak rider, has kept a close eye on the project that was paid for by federal, Amtrak and state dollars. The Delaware Democrat said the third track will result in improved performance and reduction in delays.

“We must continue to improve our nation’s transportation infrastructure in a way that promotes multi-modal transportation and takes cars off the road, for the sake of safety, congestion and our environment,’’ said Carper, a ranking member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

“An enormous number of people, in a non-pandemic world, move up and down the Northeast Corridor. Over time, more and more of them go by train. What this will mean will be more trains, more thru-put, more trains on time.”

He added that the extra track would increase ridership and be “good for air quality. We’ll take a lot of trucks, cars off the road.”

Amtrak chief executive Bill Flynn said the project moves Amtrak further toward operating at maximum capacity once the coronavirus crisis eases and business and leisure travel return to normal.

“As we anticipate the return of pre-COVID-19 ridership growth, it is vital that we have the proper infrastructure in place to support a higher-capacity railroad,’’ Flynn said.

“The results of this will be better on-time performance, less congestion and hopefully increased customer satisfaction.”

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