Sunday, July 15, 2012

Connecting Boston to New York via High Speed rail!

If you ever wanted to go from New York to Boston- you had several options (none of them really ideal).
One was to fly, either haul yourself to an airport, go through airport security, land, and then get your bags again and go into the city- at that rate you'll probably spend more time going to and from the airport than actually being in the air.  The second option was to drive (assuming you had a car or would rent one), but then good luck finding parking in New York City.  The third way was by train, which by far the most comfortable way to travel.  However it costs over $67-$164 each way, and 3.5 hours on the Acela (slow trains take over 5 hours) is what I would call quick.  The final option is to take the bus, which there are several options (some with crazy drivers who serve and overtake others on the highway as you cling for dear life) which is the cheapest option but lacking on comfort, especially if traffic slows it down.  Usually done in 4.25 hours, though a really good (I mean crazy) driver will get you there under 4.

I've had the luxury (or perhaps pain) of trying all the options, and really the train or buses (I've used bolt bus, Mega, and some others) are the way to go (though technically my friend drove the NYC/Boston route).  By the time you go to the airport, go through security, take off- you've already wasted a lot of time, which that case you might as well have taken the train.  Or you can go cheap and take the Bus, which isn't that bad if you're not time constrainted, and at $15 (or $1 if you book REALLy early), it's worth it compared to the average $100 USD you'll pay for the Acela that's only 45 faster.

But now comes the new project which I've been talking to people for years.  High speed rail linking up Boston and New York City.  Extending it down to Washington D.C. and Philadelphia would also be good, but Boston and NYC would benefit the most.  Now at 94 minutes, a lot more business could be done- and *gasp* you could live in one city, and work in the other!  While that might not go well with die-hard Yankee/Red Sox/Giants/Patriots fans to see the two cities interlinked, it really would help a lot of development in the region as a whole.

Unlike California's idea to building a super rail- the only obvious route is Los Angeles and San Francisco, that would benefit from reduced travel- both cities are large enough and dense enough to really benefit the way Boston & New York would.  High speed rail that goes into the center of the city works best when there are: 1) two cities with major dense population (dense not sparsely populated like LA), and 2) Where both cities are a couple of hours away by car, and if the benefit of high speed rail would cut that to a reasonable commuting trip.

When these two factors occur, creating a link of high speed rail makes the most sense, and creates the most benefit.  Japan has used high speed rail for a long time (a lot of dense populated cities scattered through), while other countries have created massive high speed but don't really make sense.  Here in the UK, there has been talk of massive high speed rail, linking various parts of the UK to London.  There are already trains that do this in about 4 hours or so- but would cutting that time benefit them that much?  They could just run trains that are more direct to cut the travel times.  London to Oxford takes 1 hour, but if they had a train that didn't stop at several stops along the way I'm sure it would be much faster.

 It doesn't need to be the same country- look at London and Paris- the Eurostar high speed rail has done wonders for travel between the two densely populated cities.  In 2 hours and 15 min you can be in the middle of London, or the middle of Paris.  I've been on the Eurostar and its so much better than flying, and there are enough passengers that you can actually make some money because there is enough scale.

Although it is a long term project, and will take years to finish- longer term, when less people are driving in densely populated cities, it could be a huge benefit for all business connected by high speed rail.

Northeast Corridor only profitable part

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