Monday, February 20, 2012


There is a major  problem facing the restoration of passenger rail service in the United States, let alone Pennsylvania and the Keystone Corridor West. Simply put, how can passenger service be plotted amidst plodding freight trains?

The experience of the BNSF and CSX railroads on March 5, 2002 is instructive. Cross the United States from Los Angeles to New York in 65 hours!  On that day, a demonstration intermodal train was operated across the country. The operation achieved an average 48 miles per hour for the whole 3154 mile trip.

Nothing like it had been done since June  8, 1967 when the Santa Fe Railroad (Predecessor to the BNSF) and the New York Central Railroad (Predecessor to the CSX) initiated a 54 hour Super C trailer on flatcar freight service. It lasted until 1976. At that time, passenger speed capability was still part of the freight railroad system.

On March 5, 2002, the train could not operate over 70 mph. The BNSF had run simulation models to see what could be accomplished with a peak 80 mph speed. For the BNSF part of the operation 80 mph came out as 36 hours and some minutes. The 70 mph simulation came out at 38 hours.

The train on March 5, 2002, required that opposition trains be placed in passing sidings or held in yards.

Mixing a faster operation within a slower freight operation imposes burdens upon the whole freight enterprise.

(See: TRAINS MAGAZINE, February 2003, "Fastest Freight in AMerica - We Ride It Coast to Coast," page 32.  See:   - information about 1967 - 1976 fast freight. )


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