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The Voice of Reason

New England High Speed/Inter-City Rail

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California just passed a $9.9 Billion bond issue to build a bullet train connecting all of Californias major cities.

http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/map.htm

San francisco to LA 432 miles

2 hours 38 minutes

$55.

by plane it costs $120 and by car it costs $86

The train will connect to as far north as Sacramento, and as far south as San Diego.

The only inconvenient trip is from San Francisco to Sacramento, and there are plans for a cut through later on if deemed successful.

NEW ENGLAND

New England needs regional transit solutions. We have entire states in New England that are smaller than some California Counties. We have clogged highways, and busy airports. In todays America that is now begining to support mass transit and rail transit again we need to start thinking regionally.

A train from Boston to NYC has long been a dream.

A train from Albany to NYC has also long been a dream.

a train from NY to Washington DC another long time dream.

If California can get something like this together, designed planned and paid for on its own, I see no reason why Massachusets, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey,Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington DC cant get their acts together and support something simular.

I could easily add New Hampshire and Maine.

A simple concept that ignores current rail lines would be best.

the goal is to make a syatem that has no restrictions on speed so as to create maximum efficiencies. There would be less stops than even the acela trains.

Rough concept, here goes. Maybe a map some day later if I get bored.

Portland ME

Portsmouth NH

Boston MA

Worcester MA It would be easiest to run through Worcester then down 84 to Hartford, then down 91 to New Haven

Providence RI not sure how it would link in.

Hartford CT

New Haven CT ?? not sure wich one of these cities would get a stop. but stamford likely gets the most traffic now.

Bridgeport CT ?? not sure wich one of these cities would get a stop. but stamford likely gets the most traffic now.

Stamford CT not sure wich one of these cities would get a stop. but stamford likely gets the most traffic now.

NYC

Albany NY on the same bond issue, but a seperate line North. maybe a line from Worcester to springfield and Albany.

Trenton NJ Capitol of NJ otherwise I would skip it

Phillidelphia PA

Wilmington DE ? have to go through DE

Baltimore MD

Washington DC

Maybe even Richmond VA

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My idea...

Manchester

Boston

Providence

New Haven

alt. Boston

Worcester

Hartford

New Haven

Stamford ... maybe?

New York

Trenton

Philadelphia

Wilmington

Baltimore

DC

Richmond

Raleigh

Greensboro

Charlotte

Spartansburg

Greenville

Atlanta

How does that sound?

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I can probably argue that New Haven gets about the same amount of traffic as Stamford. I used to go into NYC from New Haven and the seats would be about half full. In fact, on occasion, I would get on at Fairfield and there would be standing room only at that point. CT is a tough one and while you can skip eastern CT, I don't think you can skip both New Haven and Bridgeport, but you'd have to stop at New Haven and Stamford (both are close enough to Bridgeport). You get a lot of traffic to New Haven because it has a lot of large law firms, one of the most prestigious colleges/med schools/law schools in the country, and a lot of biotech.

I wouldn't skip over Providence either because that cuts out quite a large population if you go around RI completely. It'd likely need a couple branches.

Branch 1

Portland

Portsmouth

Boston

Providence

New Haven

Branch 2

Manchester

Boston

Worcester

Hartford

New Haven

From New Haven

Stamford

NYC

Trenton (maybe)

Philly

Wilmington (maybe)

Baltimore

DC

In addition to that, there would be a branch from Albany to NYC and maybe a direct link from Albany to Boston and/or Albany to Burlington.

This plan would make Boston, New Haven, and NYC the hubs, all of which have train stations large enough to be rail hubs and which have a bunch of other rail options for more local connections.

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I think LD's and Jim's set up looks like it makes a lot of sense. CT does need two branches with the way our population patterns go and having a branch that includes Worcester does make sense.

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I think LD's and Jim's set up looks like it makes a lot of sense. CT does need two branches with the way our population patterns go and having a branch that includes Worcester does make sense.

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Well, first thing to point out - we actually DO have a bullet train, at least the closest thing that exists on this continent anyways. And even though it is slower than most other countries regular trains, it is still quite popular.

Issue number one is the condition of both the track and the countryside. The most logical route is pretty clear - Boston, through Providence (arguably the second most important city in NE), then along the cost into NYC. A second branch might follow Amtrak's alternative route - out along the pike through Worcester to Springfield, from there down through Hartford to New Haven and picking up the NEC there. You could also send a line to Albany, although that is not necessarily such a big market there.

I would then have a line from Boston to Portland, ME, as well as a line from Boston to Montreal. This last one has been studied and proposed, but of course the governor of NH quashed that idea. This particular route would be quite valuable, not only end to end, but in providing a fast connection between Lowell and Boston, as well as Boston and Manchester airport.

In the case of New England, the demand AND the track is there. But New England also faces some challenges, some of which are precisely what makes it so attractive to have high-speed rail. The geography of New England is challenging to say the least. Finding good areas to run a flat straight line is hard. And cities are already built up, making it difficult to even find a n available route.

I do think it is high time for New England to reexamine rail, and not just high-speed. his is major political battle - rail travel is a lot less attractive to the rest of the US. I think it makes sense for New England to be treated a little different than the rest of the country in this area - allowing us to put more of our transportation funding into rail projects instead of just highway and air travel. I think we also need a new system of rail regulation. unlike the rest of the country where huge mile long trains are common, they don't make as much sense to run here in NE. Let us develop a rail regulatory system that encourages lighter, smaller trains on both the passenger and freight fronts. That's the first battle that will hold back rail development.

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From a business perspective the most important cities to link are Boston-Hartford-Stamford-NYC. These are all heavily traveled corporate markets. If the four major corporate powerhouses of the region could be connected by high speed rail it would really tie in those business communities and regional economies. I would consider the PVD-NL-NH branch to be more of tourist/day tripper branch whereas an inland branch from Boston-Hartford-Stamford-NYC would see daily business travelers.

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I think we kind of need to realize this... high speed bullet trains are supposed to stop in all the major cities and go quickly between the two. It defeats the purpose of having a high speed train if you have it stop every 30 miles. There would be other (regular Amtrak, Metro North, etc...) trains which would make all the local stops in between the major stops.

I wouldn't put a bullet stop in New London or Stamford, simply because both are already accessible via regular Amtrak and state commuter rail systems already. If you was heading north on the bullet, you would transfer in New York to get to Stamford. If you was heading south, transfer at New Haven.

Boston should probably be the northern terminal of a bullet, just have commuter rail expansion and more use of the Downeaster between Boston and Manchester/Portland.

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Bullet trains are not really for the casual traveler. The people who ride acela are politicans, and business people not keen on flying short hops.

Also, I am not saying we need to create a whole new rail system, but a high speed seperate system to replace air travel. Places not on the list would be served by re-allocated amtrak trains, and regional rail all ready in place or fortified.

Stamford, Bridgeport, and New Haven, are all very well served to NYC, so stopping there is not an issue. Stopping in all of those locations only is necessary. Because a short ride on metro north gets you to New Haven or NY.

stops slow down these trains and make them less effecient and make the system make less sense.

Also everyone needs to concider Albany. There is a big push in NY state to have a train to Albany from NYC, so including Albany would be an important thing for New York State. Also, remember Albany is tha capitol of the largest, most populous, and most powerfull state on the East Coast. Those guys in Albany need better access to NYC and Washington DC.

The biggest problem has always been how to build track seperated from its surroundings. California has the North East beat hands down on the ease of seperated rights of way.

The easiest way to create a seperated right of way would be to use existing Highway ROW space. Medians make a lot of sense.

Another part of the California plan ingludes completely new stations for many of the stops. this makes a great deal of sense concidering the needs and performance expectations of this system.

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I don't believe there is a train from Boston to Manchester, which is really ridiculous. Since Portland and Portsmouth are serviced by train from Boston, how about this?

Branch 1

Manchester

Boston

Hartford

New Haven

Branch 2

Boston

Providence

New Haven

From New Haven

NYC

Philly

Baltimore

DC

I don't think you can skip New Haven because of the size of the train terminal and the amount of connections. You can't get an easy train connection from Providence or Hartford to New Haven except for Amtrak. New Haven offers Amtrak to just about anywhere, Metro-North to serve the CT and NY cities between New Haven and NYC, and Shoreline East to serve the CT towns between New Haven and New London. It's too important a rail hub to not stop there, but I can agree with skipping Stamford and even Worcester (only ~40 miles from Boston, served by MBTA Commuter Rail). That would make the closest cities on this high speed train New Haven and Hartford (~40 miles apart) and Baltimore and DC (also ~40 miles apart) with everything else being 55-100 miles apart. If the train can do 80-100 mph between those stops, it'd be worthwhile. You could even then extend it from DC to Charlotte to Atlanta and maybe even then Orlando and Miami. We'd then have a real east coast bullet train.

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Most of us aren't mentioning Albany because most of us wouldn't see it as a main routing.

I however see no problem with a NYC-Albany connection. I'd say if one does exist, would the most logical idea be to have just one stop - Poughkeepsie?

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Most of us aren't mentioning Albany because most of us wouldn't see it as a main routing.

I however see no problem with a NYC-Albany connection. I'd say if one does exist, would the most logical idea be to have just one stop - Poughkeepsie?

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Assuming the info from the train in CA

Sacramento to Stockton is 44 miles and takes 20 minutes.

Modesto to Merced is 38 miles and 16 minutes.

So on these short trips it looks like they expect to average 120MPH

the Cal site calls the train 220MPH bullet trains, so that makes sense

more info on the bond issue

A $9.95 billion dollar bond measure is on the November 2008 ballot with $9 billion for implementing the high-speed train system and $950 million for improvements to other rail services that connect to the high-speed train service. This bond measure requires a simple majority vote for approval.

Doing something like this would allow for a connection of Manchester, NH to Boston, or better shore line east, or some version of the NH-Hartford-springfield line. or whatever.

I made this

NE2.jpg

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I'm not sure the huge desire to expand it to Maine, would there be a big enough demand for it up there?

And I'm surprised nobody's willing to extend the line southward from DC? You could have it going to at least Richmond, and then down the I-85 corridor... connect the two big megalops...

EDIT: Hmmm, PVD to HFD wouldn't be a bad idea. Surprised nobody thought of that sooner. Only bad thing is there's no set ROW between the two.

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Outside the box LD, outside the box! :)

The way I see it a project of this importance could swing a few new ROW.

Regarding South of DC, we enter a lower density living situation, and a more car friendly area as well.

Call the South a later expansion, whatever you want, but even right now after decades of out migration and an industrial collapse, the North East is the back bone of America. 100 Million people and a disporportionate amount of our econemy, wealth and power are concentrated between DC and Boston.

In all honesty any extention could be possible depending on their interest and willingness to pony up some cash to be added in. If Maine and NH do not want to be part of it I doubt anyone would complain.

To me and I think most people, the key pieces are Boston NY Philly and Washington DC. places like Baltimore, Wilmington, Trenton, Rhode Island and Connecticut just happen to be on that corridore.

Here is some interesting stuff from the California site.

http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/news/NewsRelease117.pdf

the business plan calculates high-speed trains will alleviate the need to spend nearly $100 Billion to build about 3000 miles of new freeway plus five airport runways and 90 departure gates over the next 2 decades.

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I wasn't thinking, but you could go Boston to Providence to Hartford without having 2 branches.

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Would be a long awaited good connection between the two as well. Route 6 doesn't really cut it, and a bullet line would work out better for both states than an I-384 extension.

Of course, if you run a line through eastern Connecticut, it's tempting for me to want to see a stop put in Danielson... especially if they ever built commuter rail along I-395.

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Are we talking High Speed as in European or Asian style 150+ mph average speed, or are we talking US let's get above 90mph service. Or are we just talking decent passenger rail service altogether?

There are lots of routes that are possible in all three categories in New England. But routing is only one small part of the puzzle. Right now rail regulations prevent running any kind of truly efficient passenger train service except in commuter operations. Our rail system is dominated by freight companies that have had no interest, and still have no interest, in upgrading their lines with even current, let alone advanced, technology. And to accommodate this, passenger trains have to be oversized and inefficient. In addition, you have Amtrak to deal with. The NEC is their one arguably profitable service, they are not going to want anyone messing with that. And their biggest growth line is the Down Easter.

Before getting to High Speed, which I think is quite worthy, you first need to find a way to get over those limitations. Once you do that, you can then build a network. Don't think in terms of one single line - you need a whole network of lines, both primary (high speed) and secondary to serve all your points. Then you can decided what cities to stop at and which ones not to.

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I'm not sure the huge desire to expand it to Maine, would there be a big enough demand for it up there?

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I think what makes the CA plan interesting is that they studied Acela, and the gradual improvement of existing trains etc, and found that no matter what was done the train would not compete with Airplanes. They also found that the cost would be rediculous. So in order to have the positive environmental impact and have the potential user base that they were seeking they are starting from scratch, and allowing the local rail systems to handle the rest.

the beauty of this is that ridership would increase on the regional rail services in order to feed the bullet train.

Riders in Bridgeport would take metronorth to New Haven then take the bullet train to Philly.

Although you could argue that Amtrak would not want to loose their only profitable routes, the reality is that the government would not get in the way of something like this. they would adjust their service to better serve a successful project, and expand their service outside of trafitional areas.

Amtrak is not a privately owned company. they get about 1 billion a year in federal funding.

so imagine Amtrak boosting service from Springfield to the closest bullet train. or from Syracuse to Albany especially shoreline east and such

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The Acela is already the closest possible thing we can have to a bullet train over conventional tracks. The limiting factor is not technology itself, it's rather too heavy regulation of trains to make them compatible with lethargic, overweight antiquated freight trains that is limiting them from running faster. If Amtrak could somehow mysteriously get the money together to build a new line along the Northeast Corridor, and run a lightweight train, they would be running it themsleves.

Alot of people are still missing the point that California has NOT gotten approval to build a lightweight train yet, that would be possible to run at those speeds. There are a couple of possible designs out there now that might be able to meet FRA compliant regulations AND still have a decent top speed and acceleration, but they are unproven. California is hoping that by having a completely separated track in a single state, they can get a waiver to run a lighter train.

In New England, that will be a lot more difficult. There is simply not a lot of room for another set of tracks. You can't convert any of the current tracks, because those are still used for conventional trains and freight. And you can't easily get into NYC, as they are already at capacity and can't spare lines for conversion. I am not saying it is impossible, but it is very, very difficult.

How you are going to get to that point that you can have the money to do something like that, is to build a strong network outside of the high=speed lines first. Make trains the default method of transportation. You don't have to be faster than a plane - planes have lots of shortcomings - high cost for short distances, safety issues, heavy infrastructure, discomfort, lots of back-end support and they are not a lot of fun most people who don't want to be cramped and have to deal with long security lines.

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Dividing the tax burden between all the states involved is one way to make the difference.

By issuing 9.9Billion in Bonds California tax payers will be saving themselves movey over the long term wether they use the train or not. studies being studies... but The numbers they have are profound.

Say the price tag out east is much higher. call it 15 Billion, then put aside another 5 billion for re alligning supportive rail networks. NYC could add a whole new line, so could Philly and Boston.

using a really high number like 20 billion in bonds, any project can get done.

With a AAA rating amongst all these states, the payments for each state would be pretty minimal.

The californians think their system will be profitable, so ultimately taxpayers might even get a small tax break if applied to the East Coast.

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Kerry pushes high-speed rail

Posted by Foon Rhee, deputy national political editor November 19, 2008 12:20 PM

Senators John F. Kerry and Arlen Specter introduced a bill today to fund high-speed rail lines along the East Coast and in several other key areas of the country.

Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, said the legislation would help repair the nation's crumbling infrastructure, and at the same time create jobs when the country appears headed for a deep economic recession.

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......

Regarding South of DC, we enter a lower density living situation, and a more car friendly area as well.

Call the South a later expansion, whatever you want, but even right now after decades of out migration and an industrial collapse, the North East is the back bone of America. 100 Million people and a disporportionate amount of our econemy, wealth and power are concentrated between DC and Boston......

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One more comment. On the high speed trains, it really isn't possible to have high speed trains like the Shinkanzen in Japan without having dedicated tracks that were designed just for that purpose. In Japan and in Europe (in most cases) these tracks are completely independent from the rest of the train network, usually completely fenced off, and in Japan's case, they even heat the rails to keep water and ice off the rails. It's expensive, but it's also the reason they can run the equipment as speeds closing in on 200mph. There is however a long speed limit of about 70 - 75 mph in Tokyo because of noise.

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