Monday, March 05, 2007

Philadelphia business leaders lobby for Amtrak -- Chicago-Cleveland-Pittsburgh-Philadelphia expansion next?

Good news from Philadelphia. The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and an affiliated CEO group have been lobbying for the Lautenberg-Lott Amtrak investment, according to this report from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Philadelphia-area business leaders also have launched a campaign in Washington to advocate for dedicated Amtrak money to boost the regional economy.

"We have gone too long without real progress," the chief executives of more than 50 area firms said in a letter to six senators and 13 representatives from Pennsylvania, South Jersey and Delaware. "The future of the Northeast Corridor is so critical to our region's economic future that we have resolved to work with you and the region's governors to ensure that the federal government makes a funding commitment..."

That's great progress.

S. 294 now has 28 co-sponsors, after picking up Senators Tester (D-MT), Mikulski (D-MD) and Smith (R-OR). We need more Midwest co-sponsors! Keep on calling.

I've come to believe that the best medium-distance route for rail would be connecting Chicago to the Northeast Corridor more quickly and more reliably than we currently do. We should also expand the frequencies of service, as at most, there's one daily train on each route between Chicago -- and the entire Midwestern network that emanates from Chicago -- and the Northeast Corridor.

The Chicago-Cleveland-Pittsburgh-Philadelphia route seems to make the most sense to me, especially since the Harrisburg-Philadelphia Keystone service just got a significant upgrade.

This should be a 10 hour trip on a train to travel about 750 miles. Now it's between 16 and 24 hours (!) on the published Amtrak schedule. That's too slow.

We need to invest in the infrastructure -- more tracks, better signaling, eliminating choke points -- to get a faster, more reliable trip. And that mobility between the Midwest and the Northeast will benefit both of our regional economies.

Philadelphia is a good natural gateway to the Northeast Corridor, between D.C. and New York, while Chicago is the Midwest hub. Building a stronger relationship between our two cities makes a lot of sense.

That would be a great project to work on.

1 Comments:

Blogger jim said...

This should be a 4 to 5 hour trip to compete with air service. This is possible with real high speed rail (California 220MPH), which would require a new right of way. Given the investment involved, this would make the most sense, wouldn't it? I mean who would you take a train from Philadelphia to Chicago if it took 10 hours? I wouldn't, but 4 hours on the train vs. 2 hour flight with security, travel to/from airport--I'd take the train.

12:10 AM  

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