Monday, February 1, 2016

Idea for HIGH SPEED RAIL Pennsylvania Keystone

High Speed Rail (HSR) refers to a railroad capable of speeds over 110 miles per hour. Systems exist where sustained speeds over 200 mile per hour are regularly operated.

HSR requires curvature of less than 1% for 200 mile per hour operation.

The grade of a railroad should be as modest as possible. The goal should be to have not grade over 1%.

Any HSR system for the United States means construction to New York and Washington, D.C. The route to those major destinations will cross the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is crossed by railroad lines built in the 1840's and 1850's.
The grades of the Pennsylvania Railroad (Northfolk Southern today) and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (CSX) exceed the gradient and curvature required for HSR. Both are essentially freight railroads encumbered by Amtrak passenger trains. Both routes over the Alleghenies are functionally obsolete and not subject for consideration of HSR. Their logic for future freight service are subject to review and consideration for future freight volumes.

Remarkably, a railroad was surveyed and  proposed in 1906 called the New York, Pittsburgh and Chicago Railroad. ( See the trade journal, "Railway Age" for 08/24/1906.) Crossing Pennsylvania no grade would have exceeded three tenths of one percent. This would have been accomplished by tunneling. The route went west from New York across the center of Pennsylvania. It was to have been an electrified freight railroad with curves not exceeding three percent. Being electrified it would have had substantially less expensive operating costs than being reliant upon steam locomotives not withstanding the favorable grades. Had it been built it would have been a major competitor to the steam railroads. It would have changed the course of American transportation history. The bank crisis of 1907, the panic of 1907, ended the effort to build it.

The story of the New York, Pittsburgh and Chicago Railroad is related to make the point that the Allegheny Mountains can be crossed with a favorable gradient. That was going to be accomplished with steam powered, mechanical shovels using ropes to move the boom and operate the scoop. Dynamite would have been part of the effort. Substantial physical labor would still have been part of the effort. But, it would not have been as limiting as manpower, horsepower, mulepower and black powder had been in building the Pennsylvania, Baltimore and Ohio, and Erie Railroads in the 1850's.

Today an HSR will be built with diesel powered trucks, hydraulic backhoes, bulldozers and dynamite.

So, what is the potential market for HSR from New York to Chicago?

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