Saturday, March 06, 2010

HSR: Chicago to New York

In a concise and fantastic Op-Ed, former NARP Director, Larry Joyce, discusses the New York, Pittsburgh & Chicago Railroad that was almost built in 1907.

"The proposed NYP & CRR would have been a truly high-speed railroad with grades of less than two-tenths of one percent and curvature of less than two degrees. The mileage of the existing route between New York and Chicago would be reduced from 924 miles to 780.

The mileage of the existing route between New York and Pittsburgh would be reduced from 444 miles to 355 miles. This reduction was achieved by eliminating direct service to Philadelphia and by straightening the railroad through central Pennsylvania.

Even with maximum speed of only 110 mph, travel time from New York to Chicago could be reduced from the existing 19 hours to less than 12 hours, and the time between New York and Pittsburgh could be reduced from 9 hours to less than 5 hours."

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Blogger BruceMcF said...

More critical than NY/Chicago time would be, for instance, Pittsburgh / Harrisburg or Cleveland / New York.

A direct route Harrisburg / New York might shave some time of the trip, and taking the old National Line from Pittsburgh through Indianapolis might shave off some more, but its the alignment between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh that looks like the real killer.

Its 164 miles as the crow flies, and 205 miles driving, according to Google maps, which gives a driving time of 3:14, and 5:30 on Amtrak.

Unkink the worst bottlenecks, raise the speed limit and use modern tilt-trains, could the trip speed hit 3:00?

11:23 PM  
Blogger dhochman said...

Is there a web-available route map for the NY, Pittsburgh and Chicago proposal? That would be helpful to look at.

4:49 PM  
Blogger plaws said...

I'm going to take the opposite camp here.

I certainly have no problem with trying to do what Mr Joyce suggested (and the NYP&CRR tried to do a century ago), but he falls into the old "it can't be done" crowd that you see on many of the rail-related internet fora.

If the current 110-mph service were extended west from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh, and it should be, people would flock to it. Once the market builds and the trains get crowded, then you start to have the political will to spend tens of billions on a new, straighter route.

And just what's wrong with going to Philadelphia over New York? There are frequent connections there to NYC and Baltimore and DC. Are there other, better routes? Surely, but those don't yet exist!

Of course, the NYP&CRR was trying to connect Chicago and NYC, not deal with Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Then as now, NYC-Chicago was a HUGE travel pair. Unfortunately, the current rail passenger provider doesn't seem to spend much time thinking about how to get more of this business.

10:17 AM  
Blogger Laurence said...

I believe New York-Chicago is the busiest air travel pair in the world, so there has been no lack of thought about how to better connect the two cities. However, it's too far for rail travel given present technology. Since it's 732 miles as the crow flies, a train would have to average over 250 miles an hour to be time-competitive with flying.

2:57 AM  
Blogger mick said...

New York & Chicago HSR on facebook


4:06 PM  

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