Thursday, May 25, 2017

2035 - What are the Prospects?

A disproportionate amount of freight tonnage is carried by highway in comparison with the railroad system.

In 2007 two studies were made public by the Federal Department of Transportation. One was funded in part by the Association of American Railroads and done by Cambridge Systematics, Inc.  and it projected railroad capacity to 2035.  The other was completed by the Office of Freight Management and Operations within the Department of Transportation addressing truck highway congestion and capacity to 2035.

Ten years have elapsed. Nothing has been done to address looming gridlock.

The studies were separate and distinct. As such they are mode specific.

The railroad analysis shows that the Pittsburgh to Harrisburg line will be at "near capacity" in 2035.

The highway analysis shows the Pennsylvania Turnpike as being "highly congested" from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg in 2035. "Highly congested" indicates stop and go conditions with reduced traffic speeds and loss of service volume available for rigs.

What can be done? Add lanes? Provide incentives and capacity to change from the highway to the railroad through containerization? If the Pittsburgh to Harrisburg line will be at "near capacity" in 2035, is that an alternative to adding lanes?

If anything, it is an argument to modernize the Pittsburgh to Harrisburg line in order that it will not be at "near capacity" in 2035. Rather, it should be a higher speed railroad HrSR that is a competitive alternative to the highway. When it is, it will have the capacity to operate passenger service where today it would be stressed in doing so.

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