Friday, April 17, 2009

The Keystone Corridor

I'm pretty sure just about anyone who reads this blog is interested in transportation/transit topics and has probably already seen via the Post Gazette, Trib, or numerous other blogs that the Obama Administration has officially unveiled the plan for a National HSR (High Speed Rail) system.

Pennsylvania is in the running for funds to build a connection between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg which would complete a HSR corridor between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

A couple quick thoughts on my part:

-I want better Amtrak service than what we have now. The route over the Alleghenies (owned and operated by NS) is not the best route right now for HSR. It's heavily trafficked, and has many curves and steep grades. Couldn't we connect to Cleveland with HSR, and add more "standard" trains with better scheduling east to Harrisburg and beyond? I'm not saying don't throw money into upgrading the current route and adding trains. I'm saying significant upgrades could be made to the current route without making it an HSR route (at least for now). For the larger picture, this would free up more money for projects that are closer to reality (California for example) and still provide Pittsburgh area residents with an alternative to an expensive flight or a long drive.

-Having said all of that; I will gladly take any HSR funding that comes our way, and if I were given the opportunity to ride to Philadelphia on an HSR train, I would welcome it.

-Also, I think it's ridiculous to even mention the MAGLEV in the same sentence as this HSR plan as the Post Gazette has done. This plan is in no way shape or form supposed to give a Pittsburgh MAGLEV money, and I think to even entertain the thought is to invite trouble and slow down the process of doling out the money. I will say that a MAGLEV from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia would be incredible, and a great advancement. However, I say, take what you can get when you can get it. We are in the running for HSR funding, let's go for that instead. Not to mention, I can't imagine the ungodly price tag for such an animal.

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