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  #121  
Old Posted Feb 5, 2013, 4:22 PM
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Jonboy1983 Jonboy1983 is offline
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Originally Posted by Evergrey View Post
This is a common mistake people make. Pittsburghers do not travel west to Cleveland and other points... they travel east to DC/Philly/NYC. Megabus made the same mistake when they first came to Pittsburgh... plugging us in to the Midwest bus network instead of the East Coast bus network... and it failed.
If that's the case, then I guess nobody goes to Chicago or Detroit either...

Why are they so bent on traveling to a region that is geographically isolated? What is in Philly, DC, or New York that isn't in Cleveland, Detroit or Chicago -- I mean, besides the obvious things?

I'd bet that they travel to Philly and NYC because there's a train, in addition to decent airline service, that gets them there. If I still lived in Pittsburgh and there was a train to Chicago that left at a decent time, I guess I'd be one of the select few who would actually go there, based on your comment, regardless of business or pleasure as being the main reason for the trip...
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  #122  
Old Posted Feb 5, 2013, 4:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Jonboy1983 View Post
If that's the case, then I guess nobody goes to Chicago or Detroit either...

Why are they so bent on traveling to a region that is geographically isolated? What is in Philly, DC, or New York that isn't in Cleveland, Detroit or Chicago -- I mean, besides the obvious things?

I'd bet that they travel to Philly and NYC because there's a train, in addition to decent airline service, that gets them there. If I still lived in Pittsburgh and there was a train to Chicago that left at a decent time, I guess I'd be one of the select few who would actually go there, based on your comment, regardless of business or pleasure as being the main reason for the trip...
Uhhh... Pittsburgh is way closer to the allegedly "isolated" major cities of the East Coast than Chicago. DC is particularly close - closer than Detroit, a city most Pittsburghers have no reason to travel to. It has nothing to do with being "hell bent". People are making rational travel decisions... Pittsburghers are more intertwined with the East Coast than with the Midwest.

Look at your own situation, JonBoy... do you live in Cleveland or Detroit? No. You're a Pittsburgher living in suburban Philly. Pittsburgh's primary nodes of population and economic interchange are DC/Philly/NYC. This is driven by generations of labor markets, migration patterns, business development, universities, etc. Cleveland might be close... but there isn't a whole lot going on between PGH-CLE to prioritize such a route above eastern connections... and there's much less connectivity between PGH and more distant Midwestern cities. Toledo? South Bend? Are you kidding me? Pittsburgh's orientation is to the east.

One of the "obvious reasons" for this orientation is detailed in this 2010 study by Pitt's University Center for Social and Urban Research:

Quote:
Destinations of the largest out-migration flows from the Pittsburgh Metro SA
between 2009 and 2010 included the Washington, DC (1,133 out-migrants),
Philadelphia (1,065 out-migrants), and New York City (1,024 out-migrants) Metro
SAs.

Regions that were the originations of the largest migration flows into the Pittsburgh
Metro SA between 2009 and 2010 were the New York City (1,050 in-migrants) ,
Philadelphia (956 in-migrants) and Washington DC (903 in-migrants) Metro SAs.

Last edited by Evergrey; Feb 5, 2013 at 5:05 PM.
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  #123  
Old Posted Feb 5, 2013, 5:11 PM
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I wonder would there be enough ridership potential to support HSR between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, with continuing service to NY/DC?
Probably, given hourly service. Harrisburg-Pittsburgh achieves extremely high ridership for being a daily route.

Of course, the obvious problem is then the fact that you can do maybe a 110 mph average in the current right-of-way, with high tilt and enough straight stretches to cancel out the worst slow spots (like the Susquehanna crossing), that further improvements require extensive cutoff construction, and that if you want a truly high-speed right-of-way (~150 mph+), you're going to need to carve a (very expensive) new ROW right through the heart of Appalachia.

All of this means that NYC-Buffalo, the Water Level Route alignment, is at least an order of magnitude less expensive to develop than Philly-Pittsburgh, the Broad Way alignment (because the Water Level, as its name suggests, is very flat, and the gap it runs through, the same one as the Erie Canal, is very straight).

Among other things, this means that while it's probable that (if our Legislature gets its act together) we can extend 90-100 mph service to Pittsburgh around the same time New York can extend 110 mph service to Buffalo, it's entirely possible to develop a 110 mph Buffalo-Pittsburgh corridor and ramp up Water Level service to a higher standard while the Philly-Pittsburgh market for such service is still being made. That is, unfortunately, technical reality.

By the way, I agree with Johnboy's assessment that if the daily train from Pittsburgh to points west wasn't a red-eye, more people would use it. Since Pittsburgh is where two different historic passenger alignments from Chicago to points east--the Capitol Limited and Broadway Limited--diverged, it's entirely possible to restore the NYC-Philly-Pittsburgh-Chicago daily train (most lately known as the Three Rivers), schedule it in such a manner that it would leave Pittsburgh to points west midday instead of midnight, and run it in opposition to the Daily Pennsylvanian, which would then become a section of the Capitol Limited's midnight departure...prior, that is, to implementation of hourly or two-hour service on the corridor.
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  #124  
Old Posted Feb 5, 2013, 9:41 PM
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Thank you, Hammer. While Evergrey does have a point in that most Pittsburghers associate themselves with east coast cities -- I did eventually move out here, but my case is really based on random luck. I didn't plan on that exactly. I moved out east to attend college. I met a girl from Downingtown before college even began. I landed an internship with Philly, and moved further east to where I'm at now.

I just submitted a resume for an urban design consultant in Columbus, OH, so I might become a statistic to back my own argument before long. Who knows...

Still, the point is that there are folks who do travel to Chicago. I'm not talking about people up-and-moving, but what about for employment purposes? What are the top destinations for domestic air travel from Pittsburgh? Atlanta is top, followed by Charlotte and Philly, but Chicago comes in right behind in 4th. In fact, both O'Hare and Midway handled more passengers than Boston or New York JFK in terms of originating/destinating Pittsburgh travelers. If you combine O'Hare and Midway, then you have Chicago just behind Atlanta.

This is based on info from this link:
http://www.transtats.bts.gov/airport...&carrier=FACTS
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  #125  
Old Posted Feb 6, 2013, 5:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Jonboy1983 View Post
Still, the point is that there are folks who do travel to Chicago. I'm not talking about people up-and-moving, but what about for employment purposes? What are the top destinations for domestic air travel from Pittsburgh? Atlanta is top, followed by Charlotte and Philly, but Chicago comes in right behind in 4th. In fact, both O'Hare and Midway handled more passengers than Boston or New York JFK in terms of originating/destinating Pittsburgh travelers. If you combine O'Hare and Midway, then you have Chicago just behind Atlanta.

This is based on info from this link:
http://www.transtats.bts.gov/airport...&carrier=FACTS
According to the Consumer Airfare Report, the top destination out of Pittsburgh is New York, when you combine all three airports. Orlando is second, Boston (inc. Providence and Manchester) is third, Chicago (both O'Hare and Midway) is fourth, Philadelphia is fifth, Miami/Ft. Lauderdale is sixth (it hops to fifth if you include West Palm Beach). This is from 2011 Q4; Boston, Orlando, and Chicago are all close and the rankings may have changed.

In contrast, if you hop the state line and check out Cleveland, things look different. Chicago is first, New York is second, Orlando is third, Baltimore/Washington is fourth, Vegas is fifth.
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  #126  
Old Posted Feb 11, 2013, 5:19 PM
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Thanks for the info, Alon.

Here's a question. Pittsburgh is too close to Cleveland to register on the flight stats. But both cities have similar (eds and meds) economies, anchored by top-level and secondary-level institutions. Is there much communication between the two (i.e. Carnegie Mellon and Case Western researchers partnering on papers, that sort of thing), or is it that Cleveland feels like a Chicagoland outlier while Pittsburgh feels like a Northeast outlier? That is, are whatever lines of communication between Cleveland and Pittsburgh businesses solid, or are they outmatched by lines of communication to their respective regional hubs? (I.e. are there three Carnegie Mellon-Columbia and Case Western-U. Chicago pairings for every Carnegie Mellon-Case Western one, or more like 10, or 100?)
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  #127  
Old Posted Feb 11, 2013, 10:20 PM
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I get what you're saying but I'm not sure research collaborations are the best way to measure how those cities' respective economies interact.
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  #128  
Old Posted Feb 11, 2013, 10:51 PM
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I don't know. Air traffic of course is a useless indicator. I no longer have access to the gross migration data. Most likely there is a link.

But the main reason to build Pittsburgh-Cleveland is not just Pittsburgh-Cleveland, but also all the other city pairs that go through. For example, take New York-Cleveland. Via Philly and Pittsburgh it's about an 800 km trip. But 600 of those 800 km will have preexisted by the time it's time to build Pittsburgh-Cleveland. So for each kilometer of construction cost you'd get 4 km of operating profits. Likewise, you'd get a bit more than 3 km of profits from Philly-Cleveland traffic, a bit less than 4 for Chicago-Pittsburgh, and about 6.5 for Chicago-New York.

This is something that's true in general - closing small gaps in otherwise large networks has a very high ROI. If there's HSR from New York to Buffalo then it's highly profitable to complete the line to Toronto, if there's HSR from Los Angeles to San Francisco (especially if it's via Altamont!) then it's profitably to build the branch to Sacramento, and so on.
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  #129  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2013, 1:17 AM
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Unfortunately, the problem with Philadelphia to Pittsburgh is the terrain. If true high speeds are desired, a whole new line would have to be built through the mountains. It is difficult enough to get public support behind a standard high/higher speed rail line. With the extra costs of a mountain route, support would be next to impossible.
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  #130  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2013, 4:00 AM
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Unfortunately, the problem with Philadelphia to Pittsburgh is the terrain. If true high speeds are desired, a whole new line would have to be built through the mountains. It is difficult enough to get public support behind a standard high/higher speed rail line. With the extra costs of a mountain route, support would be next to impossible.
It would require tunnels, yeah, but the cost per kilometer shouldn't be higher than in California, which has fewer but more complex mountain crossings. And really, any HSR line requires new tracks most of the way; the NEC is a partial exception because the NY-DC and Kingston-Boston segments are already built to high enough standards for the most part, but it compensates by needing complex suburban tunnels in Connecticut and a lot of curve modification.
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  #131  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2013, 4:20 AM
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Unfortunately, the problem with Philadelphia to Pittsburgh is the terrain. If true high speeds are desired, a whole new line would have to be built through the mountains. It is difficult enough to get public support behind a standard high/higher speed rail line. With the extra costs of a mountain route, support would be next to impossible.
Agreed. If it were up to me to construct a new HSR route, I would build roughly 130 miles of new track between Johnstown and Harrisburg, and about 20 miles or so of new track between Latrobe and Johnstown to allow for shorter (and straighter) travel. My Johnstown-Harrisburg route would parallel I-99 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike for the most part. Initially, I had this thing going through the abandoned Sideling Hill Tunnel, but that's now part of a bike trail. Rather than build tunnels, I have a shallow-grade up-and-over idea. I have a new bridge over the Susquehanna which will come right to the base of the Blue Ridge, slowly climbing the ridge as it heads westward towards Bedford and Johnstown.

All hypotheitical. I think there's a better chance of seeing pigs break the sound barrier, let alone flying, before this comes to fruition...



I tried to be as meticulous as possible when selecting the most likely route of a potential new HSR alignment (shallowest grade, lack of tunnels, fewest farms/properties affected, etc). There is one area near Johnstown, Allegheny Mountain, where I should have added another five or so miles; right now it goes right into a cliff pretty much...

I realize I am bypassing Altoona, Tyrone, Huntingdon, and Lewistown, but how many folks are actually getting on/off the train at these towns? I have a new town, Bedford, getting rail access, but the southern portion of the state is mostly farmland...

Again, I really do not see it happening. Bedford would become a new city, but four rail towns would be dropped. Altho, I suppose they could be retained by a more regional line while this Pittsburgh-Johnstown-Bedford-Harrisburg line is more of an express line...
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  #132  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2013, 7:34 PM
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I get what you're saying but I'm not sure research collaborations are the best way to measure how those cities' respective economies interact.
It's a proxy. Both cities have similar economies so cross-communication is being used as a proxy indicator for economic enmeshment.
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Originally Posted by Alon View Post
It would require tunnels, yeah, but the cost per kilometer shouldn't be higher than in California, which has fewer but more complex mountain crossings. And really, any HSR line requires new tracks most of the way; the NEC is a partial exception because the NY-DC and Kingston-Boston segments are already built to high enough standards for the most part, but it compensates by needing complex suburban tunnels in Connecticut and a lot of curve modification.
But the New York route--the Water Level Route--has significantly less construction costs associated with it, which makes Buffalo-Pittsburgh and Buffalo-Cleveland the more likely short segments to be completed first. Which was my previous point.

Johnboy--Don't assume the routes are exclusive; any true high-speed route through central PA must necessarily be a bypass alignment of the ex-PRR main line along the Juniata River valley. Because of this, it is impractical for the highest-speed alignment to service the PRR's railroad towns (Altoona, Lewistown, Tyrone, and Huntingdon), but that doesn't mean medium-speed service should be shifted to the high-grade alignment. Instead, it makes significantly more sense to retain medium-speed service on the existing alignment precisely because it passes through central PA's major population centers.
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  #133  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2013, 5:09 AM
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Originally Posted by hammersklavier View Post
But the New York route--the Water Level Route--has significantly less construction costs associated with it, which makes Buffalo-Pittsburgh and Buffalo-Cleveland the more likely short segments to be completed first. Which was my previous point.
Don't be so sure about it. The Pittsburgh route requires far more tunneling than the Water Level Route, but is much shorter. New York-Albany-Buffalo is 690 km, requiring about 6-7 km of tunnel through the Hudson Highlands. New York-Philadelphia-Pittsburgh is 600, of which about 140 preexists on the NEC, so it's just 460 km of construction costs, of which looking briefly at Google Earth about 40-50 would be in tunnel. So we're talking 40 km tunnel length difference versus 270 (690-460+40) at-grade, which is fairly close either way.

Beyond that, Pittsburgh-Cleveland is 200 km and Buffalo-Cleveland is 270. There's very little tunneling required for Pittsburgh-Cleveland - just climbing out of the Ohio River and joining the Turnpike, perhaps 4 km.

So the construction costs are close, and you get New York-Cleveland in 160 km less, which is 30-40 minutes of travel time.
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  #134  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2013, 3:06 PM
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My principal assertion is that Water Level will get built to Buffalo first. And once it's gotten to Buffalo, the obvious extensions are (in no particular order) Niagara Falls/Toronto, Cleveland, Pittsburgh. So by the time we'd get around to building a greenfield Appalachia alignment, the choice wouldn't be Pittsburgh-Harrisburg vs. Pittsburgh-Buffalo-Albany-NYC, but rather Pitts-Harrisburg vs. Pitts-Buffalo (which is now an existing railhead). That changes things somewhat.
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  #135  
Old Posted Feb 14, 2013, 11:11 AM
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I question whether NY-Buffalo will really be built before Philly-Pittsburgh. On the federal level, nobody's yet committed to even looking at HSR on these corridors, and a cost-benefit calculation should show that they are close in both costs and benefits. On the state level, neither state is interested in HSR, and the Cuomo administration just explicitly rejected studying HSR further on the grounds that the state can't afford it. (In Cuomo-land, the economic conditions of 2012 should dictate what spending the state should take on in the 2020s.)
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  #136  
Old Posted Feb 14, 2013, 5:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Alon View Post
I question whether NY-Buffalo will really be built before Philly-Pittsburgh. On the federal level, nobody's yet committed to even looking at HSR on these corridors, and a cost-benefit calculation should show that they are close in both costs and benefits. On the state level, neither state is interested in HSR, and the Cuomo administration just explicitly rejected studying HSR further on the grounds that the state can't afford it. (In Cuomo-land, the economic conditions of 2012 should dictate what spending the state should take on in the 2020s.)
Interesting discussion which should be taken a little further down the line.

If New York and Pennsylvania are satisfied with 110 - 125 mph max speeds between their largest cities and capitals due to costs; 150 plus mph operations between the Midwest and East Coast will be unlikely for a long time to come, if not forever. The Midwestern states, with Florida (FEC), Virginia, and North Carolina are also looking at limiting max speeds of existing corridors to 110 mph as well, again due to costs.

The only places in America considering building faster than 125 mph train operations are where they're discussing building completely brand new corridors from scratch. Both are in California; CHSR and XpressWest projects. And both of them are now considering using portions of existing rail corridors owned by public transit agencies to limit costs.

I believe these facts show that the dream of building a national network of 150 mph plus HSR system is dead. At best we'll see HSR corridors between specific city pairs - not a network of interconnected HSR corridors. We need to change our national passenger rail dreams (goals if you prefer) to a vision less ambitious.

Instead, I suggest at the national level we should be setting a higher priority at increasing max speeds on the existing corridors to what the owners of the corridors will allow, eliminating congestion, and eliminating slow orders. Adding mainline tracks, upgrading existing tracks, and re-signalling the corridors for faster trains should be the extent of investment by the federal government on a year to year continuing funding basis. No Federal grants should be given to intercity HSR projects, at best the Federal government should provide is low interest rate loans.

Last edited by electricron; Feb 14, 2013 at 5:33 PM.
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  #137  
Old Posted Feb 14, 2013, 9:48 PM
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Recall, electricron, that most nations that develop true HSR corridors do so atop a large-scale medium-speed network. This is true in Italy, Germany, Sweden, China, S. Korea, and Great Britain, and even in the earliest adopters--Japan and France. About the only nation where this paradigm does not hold is Spain, because (as Alon--Levy, I assume?--pointed out, Spanish HSR was built simultaneously with extensive improvements to its medium-speed service).

Also, may I remind you that for super-110 operation, electrification is a requirement? This ups the costs quite a lot; it is unlikely to happen so long as the freight railroads rely on diesel service (because diesel power will remain the primary prime mover in this country).

What I think is most likely to happen is that we'll continue to see upgrades to 110 mph service, and somebody (or somebodies) developing a clone/upgrade of the IC 125 which will be hailed as "a revolution in rail transportation!" , with post-110mph service mainly limited to the Northeast and California markets until a large enough network, a large enough proven market, exists in the Midwest for it to independently electrify its five primary routes (Chicago-St. Louis, Chicago-Minneapolis, Chicago-Detroit, Chicago-Cleveland, and Chicago-Indianapolis-Cincinnati). That would not happen until ca. 2030 at the earliest.

But, of course, massive changes can happen. What if the price of gas plateaus at $5/gal? The major freight railroads would have intense pressure to electrify; this, in turn, would drive faster electrification of passenger services, and thus development of post-110 corridors throughout the U.S.
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Instead, I suggest at the national level we should be setting a higher priority at increasing max speeds on the existing corridors to what the owners of the corridors will allow, eliminating congestion, and eliminating slow orders. Adding mainline tracks, upgrading existing tracks, and re-signalling the corridors for faster trains should be the extent of investment by the federal government on a year to year continuing funding basis. No Federal grants should be given to intercity HSR projects, at best the Federal government should provide is low interest rate loans.
Totally agreed. BTW, since road investments have been seeing declining returns for a number of years, I would suggest that (after maintenance and managed rightsizing of our current road system) this should be the second-highest transportation priority. Bike infrastructure, while it has a high rate of return, generally requires infinitesimal investment; rail, on the other hand, requires substantial capital investment.
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  #138  
Old Posted Feb 15, 2013, 12:13 AM
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Japan's network in the 1950s was a lot of things, but medium-speed it was not. The Kodama super-express (the original one, not the Shinkansen) averaged 80 km/h between Tokyo and Osaka. Amtrak's Empire Service is faster than that already.

Electrification is also not that expensive and not that problematic even with diesel freight. Freight trains can continue running diesels under catenary, as they do when they run on the NEC. The Empire Corridor up to Albany, which is the most plausible candidate for medium-speed rail, is already passenger-primary, even the parts of it owned by CSX. Even double-stacked freight is compatible with sufficiently high catenary, as practiced in India and China. The problem is the way the passenger rail operators think, not the way the freight rail operators think. Amtrak screwed Conrail on electric rates on the NEC, leading Conrail to de-electrify all of its freight services; the MBTA shows no interest in electrification or even in running EMUs on the Providence Line; even the mostly electric LIRR isn't investing in completing electrification to get rid of the small, maintenance-intensive fleet of diesels.

On the other hand, although electrification is a necessity for medium-speed rail and for good suburban rail, low-to-medium-speed intercity trains and regional branch lines don't need it. In the Midwest, the main reason to electrify would be to let HSR use legacy rail part of the way, TGV-style (or KTX-, or ICE-, etc.). I think it's far more useful to electrify the Virginia services, so that NEC trains can serve them without a slow engine change. The distances and the population distribution in the Midwest make incremental upgrades less useful, since NEC-level medium speeds are unlikely on freight-primary track and would only be that useful on Chicago-Indy-Cincinnati, the slowest and least trafficked of the major Midwestern routes today.
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  #139  
Old Posted Feb 15, 2013, 3:50 AM
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and somebody (or somebodies) developing a clone/upgrade of the IC 125 which will be hailed as "a revolution in rail transportation!"
I agree with you in theory. The "next generation" diesel locomotives that the Midwestern states and California are ordering will be capable of 125mph travel (IIRC this was a hard-won legislative requirement). In fact, EMD is already gearing up to produce a 125mph model, with a committed order from Metrolink.

Depending on how alarmist FRA decides to be, there's a chance we could get 125mph on the Midwest corridors with only minor changes to the PTC systems currently being installed. This is likely to happen in Michigan first, since Amtrak has greater control over scheduling.
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  #140  
Old Posted Feb 15, 2013, 9:05 AM
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Mich. agrees to improve track for high-speed trains expansion

By Associated Press

February 14, 2013

Lansing — The Michigan Department of Transportation and Amtrak are saying full speed ahead on expanding the state's high-speed train service.

Amtrak will take over maintenance on the former Norfolk Southern Railway route used by Amtrak's Wolverine Service and Blue Water trains Feb. 16. MDOT bought 135 miles of the railroad last year.

MDOT says this will allow track improvements to begin to bring more areas high-speed train service. The department says improvements may begin as early as this spring.

...
http://www.detroitnews.com/article/2...#ixzz2KxO6AjTr
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