By Andrew Nusca
Posting in Transportation
The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded Amtrak with $450 million to upgrade rail infrastructure between New York and Washington.
The U.S. Department of Transportation on Monday awarded Amtrak with $450 million in funding to upgrade its rail infrastructure to support more frequent, reliable and faster high-speed rail service between New York and Washington.
The funds are intended to upgrade electrical power, signal systems, track and overhead catenary wires between Morrisville, Penn., and New Brunswick, N.J. -- one of the busiest segments of the Northeast Corridor and the location of the densest concentration of Acela Express high-speed rail action, according to the operator.
The funds will also be used to reconfigure track switches at the western entrance to New York Penn Station to mitigate congestion issues.
The immediate benefits: a boost in top speed from 135 m.p.h. to 160 m.p.h. along a 24-mile section of track, for which Philadelphia-to-New York commuters (like yours truly) stand to benefit the most.
Benefits also include support for six more Acela Express high-speed round trips between New York and Washington by 2018 and another nine by 2022.
In effect, the upgrades will enable Amtrak to double its high-speed service in a decade.
Amtrak says these projects are the first step of its Gateway Project, which will construct new tunnels to access an expanded New York Penn Station -- as well as lay the foundation for the future launch of next-generation high-speed service with a top speed of 220 m.p.h.
The funds were among $2 billion earmarked by the U.S. DOT for high-speed intercity rail projects. Other recipients:
- Another $345 million for Northeast Corridor improvements, including preparation for the replacement of an aging bridge in Maryland and a bypass for a congested area in Queens, New York.
- $404.1 million to expand high-speed rail service in the Midwest, including newly constructed segments of 110-mph track between Detroit and Chicago (time savings: 30 minutes) and upgrades to the corridor between Chicago and St. Louis.
- $336.2 million for new locomotives and rail cars for California and the Midwest.
- $300 million for groundwork for the nation’s first 220-mph high-speed rail system in California. Projects include a 20-mile extension of the current 110-mile segment in the Central Valley, the backbone of the Los Angeles to San Francisco corridor.
The anticipated completion date for the Amtrak upgrades is September 2017.
May 10, 2011
Even with the time savings of these track improvements the overall trip on Acela will still be slower than the steam train that ran that route in the 1940s.
In 1950, two daily trains each way between NY and Boston traveled the distance in 4 hours. Called "The Merchant's Limited", they allowed leaving at 7 am, doing several business meetings and lunch in the other city, departing at 5 pm and getting back by 9 pm. The 4 hour travel time included 20 minutes in New Haven to change locomotives between diesel and electric, a delay no longer needed. So train travel time was actually 3 hours 40 minutes. The Acela makes it between NY and Boston in 3 hours 30 minutes, sometimes with no stop at all in New Haven. So 61 years later, today's "high speed train" travel time between Boston and New York is 10 minutes faster than it was in 1950. But you do get a good look at the Electric Boat Company as you go slowly through New London on the Acela, where the money that might have made our trains go fast got spent instead on building nuclear submarines. Ross Perot pointed out in 1992 that we were spending on "National Defense" 39 times per capita what Germany spent. Germany has plenty of real high speed trains, not lame excuses for them like Acela.,
These so called high speed trains (nothing high speed about them) are just a back scratching for all the union jobs that will be getting sustenance on the government boob.
I am sick of the government taking my money and giving it to whoever they think need to have cheaper faster transportation. Why can't the people who ride these trains pay the higher ticket prices needed to recover the investment?
Wouldn't it be useful to include data on the relationship between the speed improvement and improved travel time? I could do the math myself. But then, I could write the story myself, too. So why would I need Smart Planet?
...if their flagship high-speed train service actually becomes capable to travelling at high speed for any relevant time or distance. Then perhaps we can see for ourselves how practical HSR is in America.
It should be noted that when Ross Perot said that we were providing most of Germanys defences. It has decreased in the last 20 years with some of our long term troop withdrawls, but not by much.
Even the subsidized tickets almost always cost more than the alternatives. The people who want this stuff are rarely the people who will pay for it, or will even use it.
This is a Progressive blog. It is easy to get it mixed up with a technology blog as they have gone to great expense to make it look like one. I am still wondering why a company like IBM would align themselves with such shameless political water carrying. Maybe GE was not willing to advertise?
I've an Amtrak station about 5 miles from my house. It runs to next major city about 175 miles away. Subsidized ticket is about $90. The feeder system is worthless. Takes a 10 min walk to city bus and the one change of bus. Total time to station is 45 mins. At the other end I have to take a cab from the Amtrak station to a rental car office. Total door to door time is over 5 hours. I cannot get back same day so I need a hotel. I can drive to airport catch a commuter flight for $75, walk to rental car. Total time door to door is under 3 hours and I can get back the same day. Government subsidized trip: 2 days and $430 Private enterprise trip: 1 day and $210. Even if they doubled the speed of the train segment it might cut 30 mins and I would still have to stay over night. America has a damn fine transportation system given our vast size and geography. That is until the Feds get involved.
...there's a fortune to be made in "green". No, not in actual products that people are willing to buy, but in tax credits and subsidies. Why do you think major profitable corporations like Whirlpool & GE paid little to no taxes last year? Traditional capitalism has been replaced with "crony capitalism". In order for crony capitalism to work in a supposed democracy, clueless "swing voters" need to be convinced that it's all good that their tax (and borrowed) dollars are being spent on "good" things, like being "green", and that not doing so would be bad for the planet. In return, they're promised a shiny high-tech future theoretically paid for by someone else and happy "green" jobs for the poor unemployed.
...but at least if it actually runs at high speed and is just as expensive and impractical, it will be that much harder for the HSR advocates to pitch this as America's future. Also, anyone else catch the news last week about the terrorist threats uncovered against Amtrack? Once the TSA does for train travel what it's done for air travel, bicycles will seem faster...
This is hilarious. So commercial flying is "private enterprise"? With no government involvement or financial support? Then so is driving on an Interstate, the "Defense HIghway System" established under Eisenhauer. Har de har har.