Amtrak wants to start over from square one in Northeast Corridor

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Gerald Neily

Sep 28, 2010, 5:01:36 PM9/28/10
Amtrak just put out a press release saying they now propose to build a whole new high speed rail line in the northeast corridor by 2040 at a cost that I think I heard on the radio as $120B, which should no doubt be taken with a grain of salt.

It wouldn't be super high speed - 220 mph max vs. 150 mph for Acela.

It would go inland thru Danbury and Harford instead of along the coast thru Stamford, New Haven and Providence. It's shown to go thru Trenton, but I don't see much reason why it would need to.

So basically, Amtrak is knocking the props out from under their defenders who have argued to upgrade the existing NEC line for high speed. I agree with Amtrak's strategy on this. The existing NEC should be upgraded for all the various other purposes, not high speed rail.

The proposed technology isn't even mentioned in the report on their website. But there's not much incentive to make it compatible with anything else. It should simply be state of the art.

The PDF report, which doesn't say much, is at:

If that doesn't work, go to the reports page on the Amtrak website and download the first report.

Fritz Ohrenschall

Sep 28, 2010, 6:15:27 PM9/28/10
Re: Speeds.  I just want to point out that 150mph is maximum speed achieved for a few miles somewhere between Boston and New York.  New York to DC is currently limited to 135mph because there is no constant tension catenary but even those speeds are rarely achieved anywhere along the line.  So, the 220 number might be there to wow us, but what really matters is the average speed including station time of 130-140mph.  Now that's impressive.

Or to quote the report:

Successful high-speed rail operations around the world have
commercial operating speeds (average speeds including time
in stations) of 130-140 mph. To meet these aggressive NEC
travel time goals, commercial operating speeds of roughly
140 mph would be needed, compared to 62 mph (New York
City-Boston) and 86 mph (New York City-Washington) under
present Acela operations.

Gerald Neily

Sep 28, 2010, 6:36:15 PM9/28/10
300 mph would wow me, but 220 mph is just OK.

The bottom line is we should go for the max we can get within technical and economic constraints, which should be possible if we start with a clean slate.

I don't see anything impressive about achieving speeds in 2040 that others are achieving now.

James Hunt

Sep 29, 2010, 8:18:43 AM9/29/10

Thanks for flagging this report, Gerry.

This paragraph on pages 26-27 is interesting:

"While the existing Baltimore Penn Station provides some connectivity to regional and local transit services, its location is relatively removed from the city’s commercial center. In contrast, the Next-Gen High-Speed Rail concept analyzed in this study would locate a new station beneath Charles Center,
within convenient walking distance to the city’s major office buildings, sightseeing destinations and other amenities, with direct connections to the region’s transit network. These actions would more closely tie Baltimore to the economic engine of the Northeast Corridor, focusing growth around a revitalized and competitive urban core."

The current arena site?

James Hunt

Sep 29, 2010, 11:08:14 AM9/29/10
On Tue, Sep 28, 2010 at 5:01 PM, Gerald Neily <> wrote:

It's shown to go thru Trenton, but I don't see much reason why it would need to.


State capitol. Good politics. Plus, it's not as if the route needs to deviate to hit Trenton; it's on the way.

Overall, this is a pretty good sales piece, though clearly short on technical details. Unlike a some of our colleagues, it doesn't inveigh against highways, it simply points out that they are (or will soon be) at capacity. Ditto for the airports.


Sep 30, 2010, 2:29:00 PM9/30/10
to BALTOmorrow
What a way to pull the rug out from beneath Mt. Vernon and Charles
North. Just what Baltimore needs, ANOTHER train station.

On Sep 29, 11:08 am, James Hunt <> wrote:

Youssef Mahmoud

Sep 30, 2010, 3:21:33 PM9/30/10
Remember this wont be ready for another 30 years if it happens on schedule. Appropriate placement of stations is purely speculative at this point. Downtown could be in massive decline by then, or we could all be enslaved by aliens.

Sent from my mobile phone

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