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“Big Dig” Rail Projects Watch

The logo of Crossrail Ltd, the company set up to oversee the construction of the route The logo of Crossrail Ltd, the company set up to oversee the construction of the route

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:

Crossrail, London

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:

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:

Ed Perkins, editor

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