Thursday, June 3, 2010

Back from the Dead

Ok, I wasn’t really dead, just consumed with life outside of blogging.
A lot has happened in a short amount of time with the planned commuter rail plan for Arnold/Greensburg.

The story first appeared here and has become significantly more complex in the mean time. Apparently, not only has AVR secured financing for the Arnold to Pittsburgh line, but they intend to move forward with it, and are at least exploring other options for its operation. i.e. potentially pursuing a River Line style (light) of operation vs. a WES or Tri Rail operation. (heavy).

I’m not sure what to think of this. If you read the AVR proposal they have their own ideas on implementation, and basically don’t care what Allegheny or Westmoreland County think.

I can see two perspectives on this:

-AVR is trying to grease the skids so to speak. They (as I am) are not impressed with the pace of the overall project while costs escalate and the Rte 28 project progresses. Because this news is so out of left field I would not be surprised if this is in fact the case. This is what I hope is really happening. In fact, I hope it works. We’re on our tenth year of talking about this, and I see this having the potential to go the way of every other transit project in Pittsburgh if action is not taken.  (That place is no where)

- AVR is serious about this propsal.  I REALLY hope that they aren't serious about their proposal. I say that because a light rail style of operation, whether diesel or electric severely limits its interaction with either a Greensburg line operation or Bill Peduto’s shuttle, or any other standard rail line for that matter. Currently, operations such as the River Line must be segregated, by time from heavy operations. Meaning, if light operations occur from 5 AM to 7PM for example, then no heavy trains can operate on that trackage during that time and visa verse. This is fine for the AVR tracks, but not good for tying in with the NS (Greensburg) or Amtrak/CSX (Peduto Limited). If the AVR gets their way, then their operation will be forced to be a stand alone operation, even if some other commuter operation would come to fruition. Basically, you would have yet another mode of operation that does not tie in well with any other operation. That greatly decreases the operation’s effectiveness and chances it could operate successfully. No word on whether they expect to receive operating subsidies, or whether they expect to be able to operate at a profit.