Items tagged with 'high-speed rail'
High speed rail in this country is one of those things that always seems to be happening just over the horizon. And for the Northeast -- and the Capital Region specifically -- this somewhere-out-there future holds all sorts of potential. Imagine what it would be like to hop a train at Albany-Rensselaer -- the 9th busiest station in the nation -- and be in NYC in a little more than an hour.
The thing is, for all the talk, we never seem to get closer to actually arriving at high speed rail. But that might be changing. Slowly.
The state Department of Transportation is currently working to sort out plans for higher speed rail service through New York. And there was a public information session Tuesday at the NanoCollege about the options, the first of series of sessions around the state.
We stopped by, checked out the presentations, and talked with one of the people involved in the planning. Here's a breakdown of the state's current route toward high-speed rail.
Amtrak has released an updated version of its aspirations for high-speed rail along the Northeast Corridor. The short story: the new set of goals streamlines the plan, it's still expensive ($151 billion), and high-speed rail is still decades away. Transportation nation has a digest of the report.
The Empire Corridor doesn't figure into this plan. And despite whatever strong potential there might be for high-speed rail in the Hudson Valley, seeing Amtrak peg a target date for high-speed service along the Boston-NYC-DC corridor somewhere in the 2030-2040 range puts the chances of Albany-NYC service in perspective.
That said, it doesn't have to be 220 mph or nothing. There are a lot of improvements that could potentially speed up, and smooth out, Empire Corridor service (examples: reducing bottlenecks, upgrading crossings). Higher-speed rail (say, 110 mph) should be a reasonable expectation. And people would ride it -- the Albany-Rensselaer station was the 9th busiest Amtrak station in the country last year. Getting faster service along the Hudson Valley, plus high-speed service along the Northeast Corridor, could make rail travel from here to places like Philadelphia and DC a lot more attractive.
The Obama administration announced today its intent to spend "$53 billion over six years to continue construction of a national high-speed and intercity passenger rail network." The announcement is short on details about where this funding will be directed, but during the next fiscal year it says $8 billion will be focused on routes that fit one of these descriptions:
* Core Express: These corridors will form the backbone of the national high-speed rail system, with electrified trains traveling on dedicated tracks at speeds of 125-250 mph or higher.
* Regional: Crucial regional corridors with train speeds of 90-125 mph will see increases in trips and reductions in travel times, laying the foundation for future high-speed service.
* Emerging: Trains traveling at up to 90 mph will provide travelers in emerging rail corridors with access to the larger national high-speed and intercity passenger rail network.
This system will allow the Department - in partnership with states, freight rail, and private companies - to identify corridors for the construction of world-class high-speed rail, while raising speeds on existing rail lines and providing crucial planning and resources to communities who want to join the national high-speed rail network.
We're guessing Albany/New York City would probably fall in the "regional" category.
A planning/policy org recently ranked the Albany-NYC route as being among the top one percent of all routes in the nation with the most potential for high speed rail. (The route is already the fifth-most traveled in the Amtrak system.) The post here on AOA about that ranking prompted some interesting conversation -- including people who weren't necessarily sold that high-speed rail would be a good thing for the Capital Region.