Northeast corridor curves that prevent High Speed Rail?

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In the 50th Amtrak anniversary press conference POTUS made a reference to only 3 curves between New York and Washington DC that prevent 160mph travel.

I have suspected that POTUS was miss quoting a report.

Could someone point me in the right direction as to what the 3 curves refer to?

I think one is the Baltimore tunnel which I think could be one, and i think the portal bridge is a possible one, and one could be the Philadelphia 30th street station, however I recognize I’m pro very wrong, so please have mercy on a new poster.
Feel free to add any discussion on other curves that could increase speed with there removal.
 

railiner

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In the 50th Amtrak anniversary press conference POTUS made a reference to only 3 curves between New York and Washington DC that prevent 160mph travel.

I have suspected that POTUS was miss quoting a report.

Could someone point me in the right direction as to what the 3 curves refer to?

I think one is the Baltimore tunnel which I think could be one, and i think the portal bridge is a possible one, and one could be the Philadelphia 30th street station, however I recognize I’m pro very wrong, so please have mercy on a new poster.
Feel free to add any discussion on other curves that could increase speed with there removal.
Welcome to AU!

I am not sure there are only 3 curves that restrict NEC speed below 160 mph, but one other that I recall is the notorious 'S' curve at Elizabeth, of RFK funeral train notoriety (a trespasser was struck and killed).
 

John Santos

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East of New Haven, there are some.
Those aren't between Washington and New York. The two slowest sections are eastern Connecticut, which has many tight curves, and the Mertro North section between NYP and New Haven. I don't know if the MN issues are curves or just low quality of the track maintenance and control systems.
 

Cal

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The run-time between NYP and Boston is kinda slow. So I'm curious, what would happen to the speed if new tracks were to be built between New Haven and Boston that ran directly to Boston instead of paralleling the coast? I know this will never happen, but I'm curious :)
 

jis

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IIRC about 25% - 30% of the NEC spine ROW between New York and Washington DC is capable of being upgraded to 150+mph with upgrade of track and catenary. Even between County and Ham where the NJ HSR project has just been completed, only about half of the distance has been upgraded to 160mph with constant tension catenary. The rest is somewhere between 135mph and 150mph.
 

TrackWalker

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If anyone can find an Amtrak NEC track profile (track chart) someplace then I may be of help. Contact me.

Traveling at this time with limited net access.
 
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MARC Rider

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Those aren't between Washington and New York. The two slowest sections are eastern Connecticut, which has many tight curves, and the Mertro North section between NYP and New Haven. I don't know if the MN issues are curves or just low quality of the track maintenance and control systems.
As others have mentioned, the S curve in Elizabeth NJ, and Frankford Junction, the site of the 188 train wreck. are two places that will never get upgraded for 150 mph operation. Also, don't forget the Zoo interlocking right north of 30th St Sta. in Philly. The approaches and tunnels at Baltimore are another slow spot that isn't going to be fixed for high speed. In fact, the plan I read for the B&P tunnel replacement involves increasing speeds from 35 mph to 50 mph and cutting travel time by two minutes. They'll need to replace some if the old bridges so they don't have to slow down to 80 mph every time they cross a river. They also need to reduce bottlenecks and traffic interference so the trains don't have to keep switching tracks. When they cross over to another track, they seem to always slow down to 80 mph, and sometimes they go even slower, or just stop to wait for traffic to clear. I think fixing the bottlenecks would do more to reduce travel time than spending zillions so that trains can go 180 mph in a few select places.
 

jis

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The high speed crossover that have been installed over the last decade or so have all been 80mph crossovers.

Don't forget the Metropark - Metuchen curves. They cannot be sped up much on the current alignment. The Phase 1 EIS for HSR had the entire segment from Edison to Newark basically straightened out in a deep tube alignment in most places in the highest speed most expensive alternative. That basically leaves the current alignment alone for use by suburban trains and slower regional trains.

Also do not forget all the curves between Philadelphia and CP Ragan west of Wilmington DE. For that segment also a very expensive new alignment and tunnels + elevated was proposed in the Phase 1 EIS.

Can things be sped up to 160mph, or even 200mph? Of course. Depends on how much money one is willing to spend. As for the current alignment? Remember it was designed for more or less 80 mph originally. It has been stretched to become a reasonable 125mph route, but as further speedups are done the low hanging fruits are fewer and further between for increasing max speeds. But there are still many low hanging fruits for increasing speed limits from very low to medium speed where the bang for the buck in terms of reduction in end to end running times are much larger.

Also for speeding up beyond 160mph, the limits of the current ROW in terms of space available for increasing track center distances is a big problem that people are less aware of.
 
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west point

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Slow sections themselves are only part of the problem It is the slowing before the section and accelerating after wards is actually.
1. What is the Amtrak requirement to start slowing ? Is it 2 miles ?
2. How long and what distance does it take to accelerate back to 160 /.?
I would like to know the distance and time to cover 1,2,& the slow section. Of course each curve will be different. Then compare that to the time to transit that area.
 

west point

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Anyone who says never needs to rethink. It is highly improbable at this time for Elizabeth to be straightened. However Frankford has real possibilities as it has been posted that the western side is all industrial some of which is abandoned. However that area may be subject to a super fund site.
 

jis

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Anyone who says never needs to rethink. It is highly improbable at this time for Elizabeth to be straightened. However Frankford has real possibilities as it has been posted that the western side is all industrial some of which is abandoned. However that area may be subject to a super fund site.
If people read the Level 1 EIS, almost all reasonable alternatives are documented in it.
 

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For truly high speed service, they would probably need to do it "China style", by just building an all new line designed for it. It might even be cheaper that way, then doing it by improving in small increments, the almost two century old right of way....
 

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And does the theoretical, new line HAVE to be downtown? France's TGV calls some major cities' stops TGV, and they are not in the city itself, at all. Valence, is one of them.
 

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For truly high speed service, they would probably need to do it "China style", by just building an all new line designed for it. It might even be cheaper that way, then doing it by improving in small increments, the almost two century old right of way....
Wasn't that one of the plans I say for the NYP - BOS line? It cut across Connecticut, serving Danbury, New Haven, and Norwich (I think), cutting out New Haven and Providence. But the terrain is very hilly and it passes through some of the most expensive real-estate in the world, so I would think that building a new line would cost such a fortune that private capital wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole, and there's no political consensus about the need or desirability for public spending on that scale.
 

Cal

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Wasn't that one of the plans I say for the NYP - BOS line? It cut across Connecticut, serving Danbury, New Haven, and Norwich (I think), cutting out New Haven and Providence. But the terrain is very hilly and it passes through some of the most expensive real-estate in the world, so I would think that building a new line would cost such a fortune that private capital wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole, and there's no political consensus about the need or desirability for public spending on that scale.
I mean even with the current line, the run-time between BOS and NYP isn't terrible, is it? Just building new track that is capable of higher (or top speeds) the entire way would do a lot.
 

VentureForth

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I think one is the Baltimore tunnel which I think could be one, and i think the portal bridge is a possible one, and one could be the Philadelphia 30th street station
So I wouldn't take stock in station slowdowns. I think every train stops there, so it wouldn't be an issue. I honestly don't know if the non-stop DC-NY Acela is running or not. Even so, all trains would likely slow down in stations. AFAIK, no station platforms on the NEC have barricades on the platform. I know there are some stations where Acela screams at platform. Is it ever 160 MPH? I figure most of the station passings are in non-platformed tracks.

The big one I keep hearing about is the "S" curve at Elizabeth. It is quite disappointing that they seem to be making a greater effort to make some short stretches of track creep up to 165 rather than do what they can on the slowest sections to bring them up to speed. But I'm not an NEC'er so I don't really know what I'm talking about.

What I AM familiar with is Japanese railroads. The original bullet train from Tokyo to Osaka, on the fastest service makes the 345 mile run in 2 hours and 27 minutes. It costs $81.50. The average speed is 141 MPH with 4 intermediate stops. Acela between DC and BOS is 416 miles, and takes 6 hours and 41 minutes with the fastest service. Its costs $192. The average speed is 62 MPH with 9 intermediate stops. The American system is subsidized (primarily to the long distance services) at $1B+ per year. The Japanese system is self sufficient and is even paying off the national rail debt of its predecessor.

So, yeah, lots needs to be done.
 
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jis

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In the 50th Amtrak anniversary press conference POTUS made a reference to only 3 curves between New York and Washington DC that prevent 160mph travel.
POTUS is trying to appear to be knowledgeable. Actually no more that 40% or so can be made 160mph capable without a king's ransom.
I have suspected that POTUS was miss quoting a report.

Could someone point me in the right direction as to what the 3 curves refer to?

I think one is the Baltimore tunnel which I think could be one, and i think the portal bridge is a possible one, and one could be the Philadelphia 30th street station, however I recognize I’m pro very wrong, so please have mercy on a new poster.
Feel free to add any discussion on other curves that could increase speed with there removal.
Just between New York and Philadelphia off the top of my head without looking at any map, there are:

1. Curve just outside the Hudson tubes. Unlikely the speed limit will ever be increased there.

2. Harrison curve. Unlikely that the speed limit will ever be increased there since almost all trains stop and will continue to stop at Newark.

3. Elizabeth curve. May be sped up 10/15mph. Higher priority is 5th track than straightening the curve at present. Will take significant amount of property acquisition in very high real estate cost area.

4. Metropark-Metuchecn curves. Unlikely to change without spending billions.

5. Torresdale curve. Possible to improve some, but probably not to 160+mph easily.

6. Frankford curve. Unlikely to change without very large sums of money.

7. Zoo curve. Won;t change since most trains stop at Philadelphia anyway. It could be improved some but with relatively large sums of money.

We'll leave south of Philly for another day. Where is @Thirdrail7 when you need him?

150mph tops I believe
Those will change to 160mph for Acela 21s.
 
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MARC Rider

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I mean even with the current line, the run-time between BOS and NYP isn't terrible, is it? Just building new track that is capable of higher (or top speeds) the entire way would do a lot.
It would also be nice if all 4 tracks on the Metro-North section from New Rochelle to New Haven were actually open and operational. Every time I ride, it seems that at least one of the tracks is closed due to trackwork. I've been riding this section off and on for the last 15 years or so. I'd like to know when they'll actually finish the trackwork. Then maybe the trains can go 70 mph the whole distance and possible cut 30 minutes off the run time with no major infrastructure improvements or costly new rolling stock.
 

Tlcooper93

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I also noticed 3 weeks ago on my WAS-BOS Acela trip that we seemed stuck at 80mph for the majority of the first hour northbound outside of NYP, especially past the viaduct.
Is it possible to improve speeds there?

I never felt that the NYP-WAS route was much of a problem (though it never hurts to improve).
The BOS-NYP is ei real offender. A trip that should take somewhere in the realm of 120 minutes is way more, and really struggles to be competitive with other modes that it could knock out otherwise.

From what I understood, any of the major NEC improvements (with regard to speed) won't happen any time soon, and that the northern section is here to stay for the time being.

There was that crazy proposal to reroute the NEC to long island and underneath the sound with a massive tunnel project. That track would continue along an inland route that would connect hartford. I don't know much about that, but it seemed expensive (even more than the possible high speed fixes around New Haven).
 
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MARC Rider

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I also noticed 3 weeks ago on my WAS-BOS Acela trip that we seemed stuck at 80mph for the majority of the first hour northbound outside of NYP, especially past the viaduct.
Is it possible to improve speeds there?
Stuck at 80 mph between New Rochelle and New Haven? Wow, you were really going fast. If only all the trains would go that fast on that stretch. I've been on Acelas where the average speed is under 50 mph.

As for whether the speeds can be increased, you have to ask Metro-North, who owns that stretch of tracks and runs a very busy commuter service on it.
 

jis

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Stuck at 80 mph between New Rochelle and New Haven? Wow, you were really going fast. If only all the trains would go that fast on that stretch. I've been on Acelas where the average speed is under 50 mph.

As for whether the speeds can be increased, you have to ask Metro-North, who owns that stretch of tracks and runs a very busy commuter service on it.
No Metro North does not own that piece of track in the State of Connecticut. ConnDOT does. Metro North maintains and operates it under contract, according to the wishes of ConnDOT with funds provided by ConnDOT.

Yeah, it is mostly 70mph or less in the state of Connecticut. In NY State there used to be a stretch of 90mph, which was reduced to 80mph after collisions and derailments. I don't know if it has been restored to 90mph again.

That ROW might admit maybe 20mph higher in select stretches, but in general it will not have 100pmh service no matter how hard we dream about it, except maybe for a few miles in the extreme eastern end of it near New Haven.
 
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