Tag Archives: High Speed Rail

High Speed Rail to New York

24 Mar

Google Maps says it’s 408 miles from Niagara Falls to New York City. It should take about 6.5 hours to drive. Unfortunately, taking the train takes 9 hours – if you’re lucky. Amtrak shares almost all of the railway west of Albany with freight operators, and freight has the right-of-way, so it’s not uncommon for passengers to spend an interminable wait outside of Rome, for instance. 

Paris to Marseilles is 480 miles, and is about a 7 hr drive. The TGV (Train a Grande Vitesse) takes 3 hrs 15 minutes. 

The Acela corridor connecting Washington, New York, and Boston is the only nominally high speed rail line in North America, and only parts of the track are capable of accommodating real high speeds. 

The New York State Department of Transportation is planning a high-speed rail corridor between New York and Niagara Falls, called the “Empire Corridor”. There had been a public comment period that no one knew about, so it’s been extended until April 30th. There are several alternatives being considered: 

Base Alternative – Improvements to the existing right-of-way, new and redeveloped train stations, high-level boarding platforms, and 20 miles of new track, signals, and track improvements, such as grade crossings to enhance safety, security, and convenience.

Alternative 90A – New train sets, locomotives and coaches, and 20 more capacity and station improvement projects in the existing right-of-way.

Alternative 90B – All Alternative 90A features plus station improvements and construction of more than 300 miles of track dedicated to passenger rail.

Alternative 110 – All Alternative 90A features and 325 miles of new dedicated passenger rail track.

Alternative 125 – Entirely new 247-mile corridor connecting Albany and Buffalo, requiring construction of a separate right-of-way for passenger rail service and sections of elevated track to bring passengers to stations or freight to customers and freight yards. New service would stop in Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo, where travelers could change to local trains.

By my way of thinking, if you’re going to do something, do it right. I would prefer 125 or 110 and ensure that passenger rail is efficient and reliable. Alternative 125 would allow for about 15 – 20 trains per day reaching average speeds of 77 MPH and a top speed of 125 MPH. The current top speed is 79 MPH, and that’s what the base alternative would maintain.  Under alternative 110, the travel time would be about 7 hours and would cost about $6.25 billion. Under alternative 125, the time would be 6:02 and would cost $14 billion. 

There had been an earlier alternative that would have allowed average speeds of 120 MPH and top speeds of 220 MPH – TGV speeds – but implementation would have been $40 billion. 

The form to comment is located here

Facebook, High Speed Rail and You

10 Nov

Rep. Slaughter and Secretary LaHood

Last week, Rep. Louise Slaughter and NY Governor-Elect Andrew Cuomo formally notified Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood that New York State would gladly take the High Speed Rail funding that tea party governors-elect in Ohio and Wisconsin would not be utilizing.

Governors-Elect John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin stood fast on their campaign pledges that they would not accept American Recovery and Reinvestment Act monies for High Speed Rail in their states.

As Founder and Chairwoman of the Upstate Congressional Caucus, I (Rep. Slaughter) spoke with U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary John Porcari on Thursday and told him that New York State would like to receive a portion of the $1.2 Billion in high-speed rail funding that was previously awarded to Wisconsin and Ohio.

Shortly thereafter, a Facebook campaign was initiated by various progressive political action groups across New York State to amplify Slaughter and Cuomo’s message.   Secretary LaHood has an answer for New Yorkers; message received.

If you’ve visited my Facebook page lately, then you’ve probably seen the explosion of notes from people urging Department of Transportation support for high-speed rail in New York State.

I don’t know who started it, but the Facebook campaign sure got my attention!

And I appreciate that many of the Facebook posts provided very good reasons for developing a high-speed rail network in New York State. Post after post echoed entrepreneur Monica Johns, who said a clean, reliable, and fast link to New York City will be a tremendous boost to businesses across the state.

The people of New York, like those in many other states, recognize the value high-speed rail offers.

Secretary LaHood has not made an official decision about the funding, but the power of social media and online activism is a force in the hands of citizens.  And they say Facebook is for Farmville addicts and narcissists!

If you support High Speed Rail in New York State, let Secretary LaHood know what you think.