Sunday, May 02, 2010

Seventeen Minutes for the Northeast Corridor

Amtrak's long-range goal for 2030 is to reduce trip times between New York and Boston by 34 minutes primarily by improving existing track conditions, capacity, and reliability throughout the corridor. This goal is good and would allow the Acela to do the trip in 3 hours.

The Gateway Streets blog discusses a change to the NEC that could shave even more time off the total The entry discusses the NEC segment between New London and Westerly CT. The corridor here is curvy and hugs the coast line and limits train speeds to about 60 mph. The suggested solution would be to move the rail corridor away from the coast and build new tracks that basically follow I-95 immediately to the North. The trip time reduction would be possibly as much as 17 minutes over just this small segment if this change were made.

I want to see the Fedeal stimulus dollars on Amtrak spent well. This sounds like a decent proposal to me and gaining 17 minutes is a big amount, that's a 5% gain over current trip times. The result of the above however would be that many of those station stops in CT would essentially be lost and possibly closed if the tracks were moved North and existing train traffic on those lines dwindled. It's the price to pay for progress in rail travel in the US if you ask me. This change does not help the Philly-NYC commuter directly but improvements and investment along the NEC will benefit every city along its path.


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