Trains For America

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Midwest HSR plan, Southeastern Corridor also looking to benefit from new fed legislation

Pat posted yesterday about Ohio officials seeing opportunity in the matching funds and incentives included in the recently passed Amtrak reauthorization/rail safety bill.

Seems like other regional rail advocates are paying attention too. Those close to the Midwest HSR project indicated that the Twin Cities – Chicago line (a route close to my heart), will likely see high-speed upgrades in the coming few years.

High-speed rail service between Chicago and the Twin Cities could begin within five years, U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., said this week. Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, led House efforts to get the legislation passed.

Randy Wade, passenger rail manager with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, said he hopes Wisconsin can obtain federal funds next year for improvements necessary for high-speed rail service between Milwaukee and Madison. “Now we’ve got a funding program,” he said of the new federal legislation.

High-speed service between Milwaukee and Madison could be at least three years away, once federal funds are obtained, Wade said. And high-speed service between Madison and the Twin Cities could begin a couple years after that first leg is completed, he said. Six daily round trips are planned.

Similarly, North Carolina officials are looking to upgrade tracks from Charlotte to Washington DC. They call these improvements “high-speed” but they don’t seem to approach the 110mph standard that tends to be the federal standards these days. The times indicated in the article would make this segment of the “Southeastern Corridor” much more competitive with automobile travel, at least.

The state wants to double-track the rail corridor between Charlotte and Greensboro. That would allow for more frequent service, and for trains to run about 10 mph faster than their top speed today, which is 79 mph. It also would have to install double track between Richmond and Washington, D.C., and it would have to build a connector between Raleigh and Richmond. (Train service today meanders from Raleigh through Rocky Mount and Wilson en route to the nation’s capitol).

Patrick Simmons, director of the N.C. DOT Rail Division, said a trip between Charlotte and Raleigh would take 2 hours and 50 minutes with the improvements. A trip to Washington D.C. would be 6 hours and 10 minutes.

Baby steps, right?

Filed under: Regional USA Passenger Rail, United States High Speed Rail, , ,

2 Responses

  1. Loren Petrich says:

    Raleigh – Charlotte is 173 mi and now takes 3h 10m — 55 mph

    A time of 2h 50m would *not* be much of an improvement.

    DC – Charlotte is 479 mi and now takes 9h 30m — 50 mph

    The target time of 6h 10m yields a target average speed of 78 mph

    Applying that to Raleigh – Charlotte gives 2h 13m

  2. Nathanael Nerode says:

    I believe that NCDOT Rail Division’s plan is to upgrade Richmond, VA – Raleigh, NC to 110 mph by building brand new track (on the former “S line”, I think), also taking a much more direct route. That will be the “high-speed” segment on DC-Charlotte. This part is also being designed with a physical alignment which will allow for much larger speed upgrades after electrification (which isn’t currently planned, probably because Richmond-DC electrification faces major challenges).

    The rest of the route is not planned to be high-speed right now; it’s all running on existing track, and they’re mostly working on capacity issues rather than speed issues (though they *are* trying to close grade crossings, which would be a prerequisite to high-speed running, and they’re ‘opportunistically’ straightening curves, eliminating encroachments, and doing similar ‘prep work’).

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