Sunday, August 26, 2012

"Railway Age" Comments 8th World Conference HSR Philladelphia 7/10-13/12

Comments in the trade journal, "Railway Age" about the 8th World Conference on High Speed Rail held in Philadelphia 7/10-13/12 can be found on page 30 of the August issue. Go to  In the upper right corner click on "digital edition." The next page will show three issues of the magazine. The left image is for the August 2012 issue. Click on the August issue and go to page 30.

For the 6/27/12 comments about the conference from an international perspective, see "International Railway Journal" at

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Comments New York, Pittsburgh and Chicago Route

What is most interesting about the proposed route for the New York, Pittsburgh and Chicago route is that its location had such favorable grades and its location was direct. While the line's curves were not to exceed 4 degrees, that degree curvature is too severe for Higher Speed Rail (HrSR).  So, the proposed location needs today to be looked at from the standpoint of location with 2 degree or less for curves. If the location were considered for high speed rail (HSR) curves should be 1 degree or less

Recently sketches of the map for the proposed NYPC RR with grade profile have been provided to this testplant blog from the Interstate Commerce Commission,  Finance Docket 4,741,  February 27, 1930. It is noteworthy that closer examination finds that at its crossing of the Allegheny Frontal would be a grade of 1.337% for a distance of 7 miles. The line was to use a 1560 foot tunnel. A longer tunnel and / or combination of using the face of the Allegheny frontal to ascend could have lessened the grade. In fact, a five mile long tunnel was also proposed that lessened the grade to .03 per cent.

The steep grade was to have been from Houtzdale to a place about 5 miles northeast of  Tyrone, PA using Emigh's Gap.
Thomas Moran woodcut looking east from Emigh's Gap, published "Pennsylvania Railroad Historical and Descriptive" 1875.
The Pennsylvania Railroad in an apparent competitive contingency to the NYPC RR planned a shorter low grade line across Pennsylvania that today's historians name the "Sam Rea" line after the PRR president who's name is on it. It crossed the Allegheny frontal between Tyrone and a place south of there that was north of Bellwood, PA. It did so with a longer tunnel and but heavier grade proposed by the NYPC RR yet remaining less than 1%.

Both The NYPC RR and "Sam Rea" line would have used dramatic viaducts likely rivaling the one built across the Tunkhannock creek known as the Nicholson Viaduct 1912 - 1915 by the Delaware and Lackawanna Railroad.

See to learn about the construction of the viaduct with the tools available in 1912.

If the rough location of the NYPC RR were followed across Pennsylvania for a new high speed rail (HSR) line, structures like this one in Germany would be built. A viaduct on this magnitude together with a longer tunnel at the proposed NYPC RR (Emigh's Gap) route over and through the Allegheny frontal would result in a lesser grade.

Check out for more photographs of German high speed rail (HSR) construction in topography similar to Pennsylvania's.

The NYPC RR would have required 19 bridges / viaducts and 35 tunnels. Today, the number would be different due to the ability to create cuts and fills with diesel powered hydraulic construction equipment not possible with woven wire propelled steam shovels, pneumatic drills, dynamite, temporary narrow haul spoil haulage trains, and towers supporting  buckets of concrete on woven steel wires.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Low Grade Survey Mid Pennsylvania 1906

From the New York Times archives, August 14, 1906. The article reports that the President of the Wabash Railroad, Joseph Ramsey, Jr. had made a survey to cross Pennsylvania for a proposed New York, Pittsburgh and Chicago Railroad. It was to gain access to Pittsburgh via the railroad on the west bank of the Allegheny River.  At Freeport, PA northeast a new railroad was to be built east to Easton, PA. 

George Gould had aspirations to create a transcontinental railroad. He controlled the Wabash Railroad. By 1906 he had assembled from east to west, the Western Maryland Railroad, (There was a gap from Connellsville, PA to Pittsburgh.), Wabash Pittsburgh Terminal Railway, Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad, Wabash Railroad, Missouri Pacific Railway, Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, Rio Grande Western Railway, Western Pacific Railway.

The proposed New York, Pittsburgh and Chicago Railroad would have had a ruling grade not exceeding .04 per cent. And, the railroad was to have been electrified. In 1906 no long distance AC railroad electrification existed. However, the electrical engineering capacity to have built such a system was then on the drawing boards ready to be applied in the real world. The Western Maryland gave George Gould access to Baltimore, MD. The New York, Pittsburgh and Chicago would have had access to Philadelphia through connections with the Reading Railroad.

This has significance for High Speed Railroad purposes toady as it identified a route across Pennsylvania that is direct and had low grades.

Closer Look 1907 "High Line"

In 1907 the PRR considered construction of additional capacity from Petersburg, PA to Rockville, PA. Here is a closer look:

                               The "High Line" began where the mainline  (yellow) met the
                               branch line (dotted yellow)  from Hollidaysburg to the west.
                               The red line on the blue prints of the PRR map is as drawn.

                               The red line for the proposed "High Line" is approximate on the
                               following Google images.

PennDOT Photograph of a portion of the talus rock formation along the Lewistown Narrows or Jack's Narrows on Shade Mountain. Construction across the talus fields would have posed significant problems.

California High Speed Rail and WHY It's Important for the Nation

The "Sacramento Bee" newspaper on 8/13/12 reported about a podcast addressing the importance of high speed rail. See the link below to access the podcast. Set aside an hour for the podcast. It is worth the time.

"California High-Speed Rail and Why It's Important for the Nation"
presented by Rod Diridon, Sr.

By Mineta Transportation Institute
Published: Monday, Aug. 13, 2012 - 11:53 am

SAN JOSE, Calif., Aug. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Transportation's Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) will present a free podcast on Wednesday, August 15, as part of its monthly Transportation Innovation Series. The program will feature Rod Diridon, Sr., presenting a series of slides on "California High-Speed Rail and Why It's Important for the Nation." The free program will be podcast from 1-2pm Eastern, and 10-11am Pacific. Access at

Mr. Diridon is executive director of the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) at San Jose (Calif.) State University. MTI is the lead organization for the Mineta National Transit Research Consortium (MNTRC), a collaboration of nine university transportation centers across the U.S.
His presentation will explain why California's high-speed rail will benefit the U.S. and our environment, and why the state's $68 billion project is an important part of the national plan.
In mid-July, California's legislature gave final approval to sell the Proposition 1A high-speed rail bonds, and it approved the revised business plan. Mr. Diridon will explain the schedule for the first $6 billion in contracts and the related Requests for Proposals (RFPs) now in circulation. He also will explain the differences between true high-speed rail and the incremental upgrades, how HSR will integrate with feeder systems, and how it will create long-term economic benefits..
DISCLAIMER: The views of the presenter do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Rod Diridon, Sr., has served as executive director of the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) since 1995, four years after its creation by Congress. Mr. Diridon has chaired more than 100 international, national, state and local programs, most related to transit and the environment. He frequently provides legislative testimony on sustainable transportation issues and is regarded by many as the "father" of modern transit service in Silicon Valley. He was appointed by Governors Davis and Schwarzenegger, in 2001 and 2006, respectively, to the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board, of which he is chair emeritus. He helped found, and is chair emeritus of, the High-Speed and Intercity Rail Committee and the National High-Speed Rail Corridors Coalition of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). He also served as president of the national Council of University Transportation Centers.

ABOUT RITA The Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) coordinates the U.S. Department of Transportation's research and education programs, and is working to bring advanced technologies into the transportation system. RITA also offers vital transportation statistics and analysis, and supports national efforts to improve education and training in transportation-related fields. RITA works to ensure that the nation's transportation research investments produce results for the American people. Visit

ABOUT THE MINETA TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) conducts research, education, and information and technology transfer, focusing on multimodal surface transportation policy and management issues, especially as they relate to transit. MTI was established by Congress in 1991 as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) and was reauthorized under TEA-21 and again under SAFETEA-LU. The Institute has been funded by Congress through the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) Research and Innovative Technology Administration, by the California Legislature through the Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and by other public and private grants and donations, including grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. DOT selected MTI as a National Center of Excellence following competitions in 2002 and 2006. The internationally respected members of the MTI Board of Trustees represent all major surface transportation modes. MTI's focus on policy and management resulted from the Board's assessment of the transportation industry's unmet needs. That led directly to choosing the San Jose State University College of Business as the Institute's home. Visit

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Plan the Keystone West Study Update 9/13/12

Toby Fauver, Deputy Secretary for Local and Area Transportation, PennDOT will be presenting an update on the Plan the Keystone West study at the Oakland Transporation Management Association on September 13, 2012. This is the OTMA annual membership meeting and is open to the public. Reservations are required. The luncheon fee is $25.00. For Reservation check

The meeting is scheduled 12:00 noon to 2:00 P.M. at the University Club, 123 University Place, Pittsburgh, PA 15260.

See for information about Oakland Transportation Management Associatiion

Saturday, August 18, 2012

High Line PRR Proposal Juniata Valley

In 1907, a proposal was made to build a "high line" in the Juniata Valley from Petersburg, PA to Clark's Ferry, PA where the Juniata River joined the Susquehanna River. The "high line" then followed the east bank of the Susquehanna River to Rockville, PA north of Harrisburg. At Rockville the "high line" would have joined the mainline. The "high line" was proposed in part to address increased traffic. Additional capacity was required. Track capacity could be added to the mainline or this new line could have been built.

The "high line" connected with the the Petersburg Branch and the mainline at Petersburg, PA.  At Petersburg, the Blue Juniata River meets the Little Juniata River forming the Juniata River. Petersburg is located southeast of Tyrone, PA and north of Huntingdon, PA. In 1907 a branch railroad from the mainline at Petersburg followed the Blue Juniata River west to Hollidaysburg. The Petersburg branch at Hollidaysburg, PA joined the Hollidaysburg and Portage branchline that scaled the Allegheny frontal south of Altoona and the mainline. The Hollidaysburg and Portage branchline to Gallitzin, PA and the mainline there followed a line originally built by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to bypass the incline planes and levels of the Allegheny Portage Railroad in 1854. The line was sold to the PRR and dismantled in 1858. ( The line was surveyed and built by civil engineer Milnor Roberts who later was responsible for the construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad.) The line was rebuilt as the Hollidaysburg and Portage branchline in 1896. By 1900 earlier extensions east of Hollidaysburg along the Blue Juniata River completed a line from Gallitzin to Hollidaysburg to Petersburg. This became the alternative route over the Allegheny frontal using a smaller "muleshoe curve" to carry the line over the frontal. West of Hollidaysburg near Duncansville a branchline ran north to Altoona from a junction called the "Wye" switches. the Hollidaysburg and Portage branchline, or as the PRR would have designated, the H and P secondary, was built to move coal eastward together with the the Petersburg branch relieving the mainline of the additional traffic. 

The "high line" proposal was named as the line was to be built higher upon the sides of the mountains above the Juniata River. The line would have had eased curvature in comparison with the mainline alongside the Juniata River. The section through the Lewistown Narrows east of Lewistown would have been built upon Shade Mountain with its unstable talus rock formation. It is not known if the PRR decision to not pursue the construction of the "high line" was due to the stability of the Shade Gap Mountain talus field or not. It was probably a major consideration.

On the eastern end of the proposed "high line" a tunnel would have been required through Peters Mountain between the east bank of the Susquehanna River across from Clarks Ferry and north of Rockville.