Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More on high speed rail

From the New Republic yesterday. The writers there tend to be much more concerned about greenhouse gases than I am, but it seems to be widely accepted that some of the inputs required to achieve "high-speed" are:
  • separate rights-of-way(in other words, tracks shared with freight rail are out of the question)
  • broad curves
  • elimination of steep grades, whether by earth removal or tunnels.
Author Plumer thinks that the trade-offs are manageable, but as I mentioned previously, the terrain of western Pennsylvania would result in a very high cost to build a track with the above qualities(the Tribune-Review says $13 billion), and I really think the money could be better spent elsewhere, particularly on upgrading highways.

That same Trib article, interestingly enough, mentions the current speed of current trains between Harrisburg and Philadelphia as being "up to 110 mph" according to a PennDOT spokesman. Again, though, that part of the state is relatively ideal terrain for transport, as shown below.

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