High Speed Rail to New York
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.