TRENTON - The federal government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to bring high speed rail to the Northeast.

Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, running from Washington, D.C. to Boston, is the crown jewel of the nation's railroad system. 

Trains traveling 160 mph could soon fly across the rails, and New Jersey's tracks are the key to the whole plan. The tracks and power wires that keep the trains moving are in need of an overhaul.  

Today, the head of the Federal Railroad Administration and Sen. Cory Booker announced the first step in bringing in high speed rail.

The 23-mile stretch from Trenton to New Brunswick will be the first area in the country to install updated equipment for high speed, at a cost $450 million. Billions more are needed to do the whole route.
Booker says investing in infrastructure puts Americans back to work. "We are a nation that unfortunately right now is being penny wise and pound foolish," he says.

The senator wants more of these projects, and will make an aggressive push in Congress for new rail tunnels under the Hudson River.

Federal officials say the upgrades will benefit NJ Transit commuters as well, by increasing capacity for commuter service and making the routes more reliable.

The Trenton-to-New Brunswick portion of the project should be completed by 2017, and high speed rail service is expected to begin by 2023.