Saturday, April 18, 2009

fast track-less

Lots of news coverage of the plan (vision?) to build high speed rail from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. A dour note on the concept comes from the Philly biz writer Joe DiStefano.

I'm not opposed to the idea, but I do think that it would be an awfully lot more useful for us to enhance the DC to Pittsburgh rail link. Either way the topography is a big challenge. A DC to Pittsburgh link could be extended to hit Youngstown and Cleveland as well. Problem is of course that from a political perspective, an intra state project has the backing of the state's body politic as is implied by DiStefano's update. There is a lot less political benefit for the state to push inter-state projects. It's a problem that goes well beyond new rail lines.

High speed rail need not be, probably isn't in most cases, Maglev. Nonetheless, the McKeesport Daily News says the plan could be a big benefit for Maglev. As does the Beaver County Times. Maybe, although the new head of the ACCD described Maglev as overkill, although he was talking about it's application to the concept of a future spine line project between Oakland and Downtown. Even former PG DC chief Ann McFeatters weighs in via Scripps on the plans for high speed rail. Though she says maglev has been in the works here for just 19 years... I am pretty sure it's a lot longer than that. At the very least, I have In this old post I put up this image from 1985 when the maglev concept was routinely mentioned.


Anonymous jet said...

I just had to drive to Boston and back for a conference after my tickets got canceled at the last minute and gas was cheaper than next-day tickets.

Have you seen any projections about what ticket prices would be like? I'd gladly have paid $300 r/t for PGH<->Boston.

Saturday, April 18, 2009 9:48:00 AM  
Blogger Paz said...

Good lord, that map is older than I am.

A high-speedifying of the Cap Limited is an interesting idea. Still I think the Keystone Corridor would be more functional. Philly is closer to the midpoint of BosWash, so while it might not be your final destination, it's closer to wherever you are going on the eastern seaboard.

Saturday, April 18, 2009 2:28:00 PM  
Blogger Conservative Mountaineer said...

Maglev = Groundhog Day on steroids

Good grief. Someone please, please shoot Maglev and put is (us) out of its (our) misery.

The only reason Maglev still exists is so someone can have a job promotong it.. they (the promoters) keep getting funding.. Why? H*ll if I know.

Saturday, April 18, 2009 9:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder why so much emphasis is being placed on the "high speedness" of the rail options. I took a train to NYC a while back. I think it took nine hours. Which seems long, but the problem wasn't so much that we weren't moving fast when we were moving. The problem was that we were STOPPED so much. I think it made something close to 26 stops along the way. The one in Lancaster was 20 or 30 minutes. Perhaps running two trains a day instead of one would halve the required stops and shave a lot of time off.

But of course, required stops are always the problem. The Maglev that was supposed to run from Baltimore to DC was going to stop at BWI. Meaning it could never have really gotten up to speed. Come to think of it, wasn't there a proposal for high-speed rail from Pittsburgh to the airport? It's only 14 miles, right? A mule-driven cart would be fine, as long as it had a dedicated pathway that would keep it out of traffic.

Going 220-miles-per-hour is only important if you are going a long, long way. Sure, that matters Pittsburgh-NYC or Pittsburgh-DC. But there are a lot of other, cheaper ways to make those trips faster.

Sunday, April 19, 2009 12:06:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

To be fair.... the maglev proposed for Pittsburgh is actually Greensburg-Monroeville-Downtown-Airport. The money was supposed to come from a DOT demonstration project to test the concept more than anything else... not be a true long distance project. So there are some minimum distances to allow for at least a segment getting close to speed. The Monroeville-Greensburg segment would probably be the fastest. The DC/MD concept is impacted not just by distance, but also the sheer amount of development in that area which has dampened interest there. If you have ever been on a train platform as a metroliner sped by, imagine a maglev at speed.

on the number of stops for Amtrak in PA.. I wonder, is the state still subsidizing the route? If so it probably is the state mandating the stops in return for that subsidy... but that is just a guess.

Sunday, April 19, 2009 12:34:00 AM  
Blogger n'at said...

To pick up on Briem's post, from my understanding the federal demonstration project was down to two finalists: Las Vegas and Pittsburgh. However, because of the topographic and climactic challenges (pragmatic approach: if it can be built and function well here, then it can be implemented anywhere in the U.S.) Pittsburgh was supposed to receive the $900million to move into design development, but Las Vegas had significant political cheerleading for an alternative transportation link from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. When I stopped paying attention Congress was attempting to placate both cities, but then Bush entered the White House dot dot dot

Sunday, April 19, 2009 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger Bram Reichbaum said...

Good thing they planned for a stop in Altoona. Many's the time I've NEEDED to get to Altoona in under an hour.

Sunday, April 19, 2009 1:40:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

That's all correct, but the whole story is a little screwier. I think Pittsburgh was down to one of two finalists including the DC version I think.. but support there was waning. The Las Vegas project was a last minute addition to the list which again kept Pittsburgh from 'winning' by default. The actual money was never actually to the point of being appropriated. I think that was all just before 9/11 when obviously everything came unwound for the obvious reasons. There was briefly this (silly I thought) talk about how rail would have a big new renaissance because of how safe it was... safe in that you can't 'aim' a rail line into a building people would say. That never seemed to have amounted to much.

Suffice it to say... a long journey. Can't we just put PATrain back in action.. maybe with a JATO pack to speed it up some.

but again lest anyone get confused. In most cases 'High speed rail' is not a synonym for maglev even here. Most likely are faster trains like most elsewhere in the world.. so still steel wheels on track.

Sunday, April 19, 2009 4:20:00 PM  

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