Friday, November 18, 2011

Market for Pittsburgh to Harrisburg Restored Rail Service

In 1986 something called the Pennsylvania High Speed Intercity Rail Passenger Commission existed.  Parsons Brinckerhoff Gannett Fleming in July of 1986 prepared a study called "Pennsylvania High Speed Rail Feasibility Study - Market Demand." The study made an estimate of market demand assuming a 180 mph high speed passenger railroad service from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia. . The study also assumed market demand for a 250 mph maglev service from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia.

The study used 8900 completed questionaires and focus groups with 200 participants.

Conclusion was that there was adequate market demand for 180 mph rail service or 250 mph maglev service.

A couple of years ago a copy of the report was secured. Amazingly, there was no  consideration of the practicality for the construction of either services, rail or maglev.  The report did provide some maps showing in the broadest, most gross manner with simple lines of where such services might be constructed.

So, it is little wonder that the study found that should such service levels have had existed, there would be adequate market demand!?!

Maglev comment. Nice idea. Impractical. No large scale maglev system exists in the world as long as the distance from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia then or now. Even if a demonstrated long distance maglev system existed, its inherent defect would be that it stands alone. The only easy transition from a maglev type of transportation mode is the act of a passenger walking onto or off the maglev vehicle. The proven technology of high speed railroad systems allows for utilization of existing conventional rail lines into and out of city terminals.

Probably the most telling of the quality of the study was the group photograph of the commission. The members and staff look like a haphazard group of tourists visiting the 1906 Pennsylvania capital building.

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