- Apr 5, 2011
- Baltimore. MD
Boston and Montreal seem like 2 significant cities that should have some direct Amtrak service but don't. The route is complete, except for a section of track between Lebanon NH and just south of Concord NH, which is now a rail trail. Is there a good alignment for building track to connect...
Aside from the political problems of eliminating a popular rail trail, there may be other reasons why restoring rail service on abandoned lines might not always be the best thing to do to restore rail service. Because many lines have been abandoned and replaced with highways that may be located at some distance from from the abandoned track alignment, restoring that track alignment might not actually provide convenient service to many people.
For example, in my neck of the woods, the Old Northern Central Railway used to serve Baltimore - York - Harrisburg before I-83 took away a lot of the traffic and Tropical Storm Agness in 1972 tore out the tracks. It's now a very popular rail-trail, which I have been known to use quite a bit.
DISCLAIMER: no safety rules were broken, and I am not so foolish as to actually hike along active railroad tracks. Last weekend, cabin fever was setting in, so it was time to comply with my state's "stay-at-home order" by leaving the house to engage in some outdoor exercise. In this case it...
Let's just say that the former stations, except for New Freedom, PA, are basically bucolic rural less-than-villages, whereas the significant development along the route which would drive ridership is mostly located around the interchanges of I-83. Thus, it would probably be most useful to build a completely new Northern Central Railway that would serve those interchanges. You can't just build a new rail line in the median of I-83 because (1) there's no median on I-83 in Pennsylvania, just guardrails and (2) I-83 runs across the grain of the scenic hilly Piedmont. The old Northern Central made its way by twisting and turning along local stream valleys and could never be considered even "higher speed rail." Back in 1966 the General took an hour and 40 minutes to get from Baltimore to York. The Baltimore Day Express took an hour and 50 minutes. You can drive it in less than an hour on I-83. And these trains made only about 2 stops between Baltimore and York. Any kind of useful commuter service is going to need to stop at more places. All this means that any kind of useful rail line connecting Baltimore York and Harrisburg, which really should happen given the growth in the area, is going to have to be a completely new line. Well, I guess with some imagination they could figure out how to share the track with the MTA Light rail from Cockeysville down into Baltimore. But any kind of new rail line in this very hilly terrain with expensive real estate prices is going to be fiendishly expensive, plus I imagine all kinds of NIMBYs will come out of the woodwork, which means it's never going to happen. But rebuilding the old line won't be very useful, so might as well keep the trail.