Here’s our ongoing status report on three “big dig” rail projects that will have a major impact on travelers when they’re finally finished. We focus on those that are actually in progress, funded and with realistic completion dates.
East Side Access, New York City.
Objective: Allow Long Island trains to use Grand Central Station as well as Penn Station.
Traveler benefit: Easy, fast AirTrain-rail access from JFK Airport to Manhattan’s East Side, where many of the city’s most important business centers and hotels are located.
Project: Tunnels in Manhattan, Queens and under the East River, plus new low-level terminal at Grand Central.
Status: Tunnels completed.
Opening date: September 2023.
Get more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Side_Access
Objective: Connect British rail services to the West with those to the East.
Traveler benefit: Cross-London rail service much faster than on the Underground; rail service from Heathrow and Stansted Airports to stops across central London.
Project: Tunnels under central London between (roughly) Paddington and Liverpool Street Stations, with intermediate stops in central London and connections to suburban networks.
Status: Tunneling mostly complete.
Opening date: December 2018
Get more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossrail
Gotthard Base Tunnel, Swiss Alps
Objective: Increase capacity and speed of vital rail link between Italy and Switzerland
Traveler benefit: High-speed passenger trains cutting about an hour off the Zurich-Milan schedules.
Project: The world’s longest (for now) rail tunnel, at 35.5 miles, 2000 feet below the current tunnel.
Status: Tunnels complete, tracks installed.
Opening date: December 2016.
Get more information: http://www.alptransit.ch/en/home.html
— Ed Perkins, editor