Improvements to Amtrak services are as important to railroad workers as they are to passengers. In the recent tragic crash in Philadelphia workers were hurt as well as passengers.
Recently I read in the Washington Post about how Virginia transportation officials want to cut the train ride from Richmond to Washington DC to a mere 90 minutes by 2025. It’s an admirable aim as long as safety improvements make it possible.
“The state and Federal Railroad Administration are exploring the feasibility of high speed rail in the 123-mile stretch connecting the two cities,” stated the Washington Post.
The proposal would raise average speeds for Amtrak trains on that stretch of line from 70 mph at present to 90 mph. It’s expected to make intercity rail travel more reliable for commuters and ensure rail is competitive compared to air and car travel.
The proposal would entail maximizing the efficiency of the infrastructure while making enhancements to increase rail capacity. The two track corridor linking the two cities is used by passengers and commuter trains as well as freight trains. The federal environmental review is exploring the idea of adding a third track to the corridor, modernizing its stations and adding passing sidings and crossovers to allow trains to pass each other more easily. There would also be some straightening of curves to allow speeds to increase.
Given that many derailments occur on curves, I certainly welcome these measures as a means to improving safety on this line.
Improvements in Virginia would support Amtrak’s vision to transform the North-east Corridor into a high speed system by 2040. Many of the trains on the North-east corridor begin their journey in Virginia. Hampton Roads would also benefit from these improvements because Amtrak resumed its service from Norfolk to Washington in 2012.
The improvements would entail better trains. Amtrak’s plan calls for the replacement of the Acela Express fleet, which seldom reaches speeds of 150 mph, with a new fleet of high speed trains that would boast a top speed of 220 mph.
However, these ambitious plans run up against funding obstacles. Not enough money has been made available to achieve the great leap to higher speed trains. Likewise we have seen delays in the implementation of positive train control (PTC) measures that could have prevented the Amtrak crash in Philadelphia.
If you have been hurt while working for Amtrak or another railroad, please call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers for a free consultation at 866-455-6657.