Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Transportation: High-speed rail and regional transportation.

Someone in the skyscraperpage.com forum shared a private message with me regarding some transportation news.  The links are as follows:

Philadelphia's regional rail plan: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1M7ORw1X9nMQ3lFTnphOFJITTg/edit

Cincinnati's regional rail plan: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1M7ORw1X9nMQzhuNTJzYUlGOWc/edit

National high-speed rail plan:https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1M7ORw1X9nMV1BuSzZPdmxTZDg/edit

I am still not sure the new tunnel alignment underneath Center City Philadelphia is all that necessary. If anything, I think the city could be shooting itself in the foot with this one. Philadelphia's 30th Street Station is currently the primary regional/inter-city rail hub for the whole region. All of the regional rail lines along with several Amtrak inter-city trains, including the Acela, all provide service here. Moving the high-speed trains to a new station underneath the existing Market East Station would shift some connection opportunities away from a major connecting point. I don't see the city or region really gaining anything from this. However, the new alignment does provide a stop at Philadelphia's airport. Other than that, this alignment will not do much for the city.

Cincinnati is proposing a rather impressive regional rail system which will provide many suburban communities, including the city of Covington, KY, where Cincinnati's international airport is located, with a rail link to Downtown Cincinnati. I think this fortifies my argument for Pittsburgh to have a comprehensive regional rail network. Cincinnati's metropolitan area is less populous, but it apparently has enough people to make rail transit a possibility. There is talk of linking parts of the Allegheny River Valley with a rail line, but other ventures should be explored as well. As for Cincinnati, I would like to see this proposal advance.

Now to the third topic, having a high speed rail line from New York to Chicago via a link between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh would be a huge boon for the region. However, I think the focus for now should be on linking Pittsburgh with the Midwest network; it will be less costly providing new right of way (R.O.W) would not be necessary, nor would the need for tunnels exist. Pittsburgh does have its ties with the Northeast, but Chicago is another top business destination for Pittsburgh travelers. Government officials in both Pittsburgh and Cleveland should collaborate to establish better links and ties with each other to boost travel demand between the two cities and to eventually upgrade the infrastructure to bring state-of-the-art transportation service to the region in the form of faster trains. For high speed trains from New York to Chicago, I would recommend an alignment through southern New York since it's a little flatter in spite of the area being less populous.

Essentially, I agree with Mappy, the fellow from the skyscraperpage.com forum who provided me the above links to this information. He and I basically have the same opinion, particularly about the national high-speed rail plan between New York, Pittsburgh, and Chicago.