Friday, June 2, 2017

HrSR Pittsburgh to Harrisburg. Why? Better Routes?

The studies for increasing conventional passenger train service from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg realy make little sense beyond how such service might benefit State College, PA and the Pennsylvania State University. In terms of economic need, the real route should be Pittsburgh (Ligonier) west to Youngstown, Akron, Cleveland. Tying together that mega city makes more sense than addressing Pittsburgh to Harrisburg.

But, using dual mode diesel and mode electric power in one locomotive could extend service west from the Keystone Corridor East that is owned by Amtrak and has its western terminus at Harrisburg beyond to the Keystone Corridor West an hour west to Lewistown, PA will make State College a destination from the heavily populated part of the Commonwealth to the east by passenger train. In doing so Amtrak would be operating on Norfolk Southern owned tracks. The eastern portion of the the Keystone Corridor West is less likely to have additional passenger train service interfering with Norfolk Southern freight operations. A highly transient student population that is made up substantially of students whose residence is in the proximity of the Keystone East Amtrak line appears to be a rational expansion of passenger train service.

Connecting Pittsburgh - Youngstown - Akron - Cleveland has a logic in that the population concentration described is a mega city. The problem is that two states are involved. Amtrak has a state by state focus rather than a national focus due to Republican ideology. So, rather than Amtrak, the creation of passenger service perhaps should be pursued along the lines of a transit project. This would require the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority and the Port Authority of Pittsburgh to create a joint interstate  transit authority to implement and operate passenger train service over the freight railroad lines that exist. The Federal Transit Administration which is part of the Federal Department of Transportation would be the oversight agency. There is added complexity in this proposal. There would be more than one freight railroad involved. Both the tracks of the Norfolk Southern and CSX would be used. Dispatching of trains over the two railroads would need to be coordinated.

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