Tuesday, August 25, 2009

High speed, intercity rail

I love to travel by train. Lots of leg room, a place to plug in my laptop, ease of travel. Train stations are always in downtown metropolitan areas. This is absolutely perfect for me since going city-to-city makes up all my travel. Pittsburgh could use some more travel options, though. It wold be nice to be able to get to NYC, Philadelphia and Washington a little more quickly to see exhibits, shows and all that great stuff. Luckily, there are other folks that are thinking the same way --
PennDOT submitted the following as candidate projects for potential formal application later:

* Keystone East Corridor Harrisburg to Philadelphia — funding would include track, signal, power and catenary upgrades, grade crossing removal and station improvements or replacements.
* Scranton to New York Rail Passenger Rail Service Program Phase 1 — funding for part of a proposed restored 133-mile passenger rail corridor between Northeastern Pennsylvania and Hoboken, N.J., with connections to Penn Station in Manhattan.
* Pittsburgh High-Speed Magnetic Levitation Project Phase 1 — funding to design and construct the first segment (Pittsburgh International Airport to Downtown Pittsburgh) of a Maglev, or magnetic levitation, line between the airport and Monroeville/Greensburg.
* Keystone West Harrisburg to Pittsburgh High-Speed Rail Feasibility and Business Plan Study — funding for a feasibility study of enhanced intercity passenger rail service between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. One Amtrak train a day in each direction now serves this corridor.

I don't know definitively what was approved for this proposal. However, from the sound of it, input is being sought --
The plan will enable PennDOT to implement a more efficient and effective approach to intercity rail transportation within the Commonwealth. Specifically, consideration will be given to more frequent and timely passenger rail service and increased use of the freight rail system for goods movement. In addition, this plan will also aid in prioritizing rail projects throughout the state by identifying those that will provide the most benefit for the limited funding available. Prioritization will take into account multiple factors. These factors include, but are not limited to; the availability of funding, the ability of the project/improvement to facilitate economic growth, and the minimization of impacts to the environment.

Here's the important part --
A public meeting to review the Draft Intercity Passenger and Freight Rail Plan has been scheduled. The plan will enable PennDOT to implement a more efficient and effective approach to intercity rail transportation within the Commonwealth. Additional information about the plan and meeting can be found in the attached flyer. We hope that you will help us to spread the word of this meeting to the constituents of District 7.

PA Intercity Passenger & Freight Rail Plan
Thursday, September 17, 2009
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Carnegie Borough Building
One Veterans Way
Carnegie, PA 15106

Now, I don't understand why they are having this meeting in Carnegie instead of downtown Pittsburgh. Especially at 6PM. Anybody out there planning on going? I would love to put together a group to get out there!


Nick said...

Nice, it is about time Pittsburgh gets better train options. Speaking of trains, a real subway would be nice too that connects Downtown to Oakland and the rest of the East End.

John Morris said...

Yes, I think I'm interested and likely would have time then.

There are likely signifigant practical barriers to real "high speed' travel between DC or Harrisburg, the main one being mountains, however very significant improvements could likely be made -- an average speed of 60-70 would be awesome. DC and Baltimore are very close!

I know, most people consider Cleveland, Chicago and most of the "rust belt" not worth connecting to but really this is the very practical since the land is flat. kicking up to safe speeds of 100 plus would be easy.

Obviously, the other big problem is lack of real infrastructure. True fast trains run on their own tracks and never have obstacles like railroad crossings etc.

The reality is that we don't have the cash for any of this-- mostly cause we are tied to wasting money on our commie "free highways".