10 responses to “Will Providence continue to be a Northeast Corridor rail city?”

  1. transportprovidence

    It’s hard for me to get worked up about this until I know more details. There are so many “ifs”. “If’ we spend billions of dollars. “If” the service we build is much faster. “If” we can do it here vs. Worcester.

    I would be of the view that “if” a Worcester plan offers better overall service between Boston and New York, then it would make sense to use that route. But “if” . . .

    The transit projects that get everyone’s blood pumping are these long-range, high-speed ones, but the local routes carry far more people. The NEC is different–and interesting–in that it’s a rail corridor that is so successful it can actually pay for itself, and the money from it subsidizes other rail lines in the U.S. So on this route, we may be at a point where spending money to build faster tracks makes sense.

    I recall that Rhode Island is not a big part of the problem of the slow trains, at least at the Acela speeds. RI is one of the faster sections right now. But I have no idea whether that would mean it was straight enough to take 220 mph speeds. There are other sections that are really curvy. So it’s curious to think that RI is being thought of as a place to make changes, when, for instance, we just had a derailment in Philadelphia along curvy tracks. On the other hand, we have open space–“the last green mile”–that might allow for tracks to be built, whereas to change the course of a train through Philadelphia or New York might require humongous amounts of eminent domain.

    We could try to imagine a service that provides its fastest direct connection between Worcester and New York, but which has local(ish) connections between Worcester, Boston, Providence, and Connecticut. That system would cost more, but would provide a much more useful service.

    I wonder whether speed would be more important, or frequency, in this case? These are not the types of services that lots of people take to work (unless it’s for a special meeting), so speed may really help here. But in some cases we tend to value the overall speed of the train that overshadows the importance of a frequent schedule. So that’s a question too.

    Whatever we do, the next president should get rid of the ‘buy American” clause in transit purchases. We could do all of this a lot cheaper if that weren’t the case (the countries that generally produce rail technology competitively are all social democracies with great working conditions, but they just do the work much better than we do). The FRA could use the savings to think about providing a variety of services, and not just one track. https://pedestrianobservations.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/buy-america-is-a-scam/

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  2. Barry Schiller

    The real threat to Providence’s rail service is the possible election of an ant-rail, anti-environment, anti-northeast Republican President (e.g. Cruz who thinks coming from New York is enough to damn someone) that would allow the corridor to decline. Tunnels under the Hudson, old electrical systems, ageing bridges are all real threats and we don’t have the funds to keep it going, nevermind vast additional billions for a whole new line. Even some minor bypasses on the current route have already drawn opposition from towns such as Old Lyme that don;t want any new rail infrastructure cutting thru their towns, a whole new line is unimaginable due such opposition as well as financial considerations.

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    1. Randall Rose

      Cruz didn’t actually say he was anti-Northeast. He criticized Trump’s “New York values”, since Trump had said long ago that his values reflected his New York background. Just as some people here disagree with what are considered to be Alabama values without necessarily being against Alabamans, you can disagree with New York values without being anti-New Yorker. In a way, Cruz was making the reasonable point, before the Iowa caucuses, that when his fellow politician Trump was persuading Iowan Republicans that Trump shared their values, that wasn’t very consistent with what Trump had said before. The evidence I’ve seen doesn’t yet support the idea that Cruz or any other Republican presidential candidate is against New Yorkers, let alone being against people in the Northeast as a whole. (There are plenty of Rhode Islanders who share the dislike for New York values that Cruz was alluding to — although Cruz, like most presidential candidates, is as aggressive, bombastic and selfish as any stereotypical New Yorker.)

      Maybe more evidence will show that Cruz or some other Republican presidential candidates are against the Northeast. Perhaps some of them are like Dick Armey who once said that Boston wasn’t in America. Still, on the subject of regional bias I’m inclined to think people are entitled to some preference for their own region which, as long as it doesn’t go too far, isn’t a serious prejudice. On the whole, it doesn’t seem to be that Republican presidential candidates are out to get the Northeast, they just disagree on values with a lot of us here. It’s like how Obama treats the majority of Southerners.

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  3. RIFuture.org: Will Providence continue to be a Northeast Corridor rail city? | Greater City Providence

    […] – RIFuture.org […]

  4. leftyrite

    there’s such a thing as spirit.

    the logical corridor is manhattan to boston,

    straight shot.

    and, that’s the one that will be developed.

    my abiding question is this:

    why is providence always hobbled by

    and saddled with lame ideas?

    why a stupid minor league stadium?

    why an LNG terminal?

    why scrap cars and scrap metal?

    why lousy proposals like the above?

    where is the ballsy money??

    …and what people are actively discouraging

    what could be a renaissance?

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  5. traintraveler

    A more accurate way to gauge populations along the potential corridors is by New England city and town area (NECTA), a geographic and statistical entity defined by the U.S. federal government used in the six-state New England region.

    Using 2010 NECTA census counts, an inland corridor, comprised of Danbury, Waterbury, Hartford, Springfield, and Worcester, would serve a combined population of 2,750,511.

    By the same measure, the Northeast Corridor (NEC) classic coastal route, including Stamford, Bridgeport, New Haven, Norwich–New London, Providence, and New Bedford, has a combined population of 3,279,332, a half-million more than the inland option.

    This would appear to favor the coastal route.

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    1. transportprovidence

      I’m just not sure I understand why we would oppose this until we’re sure it’s an either/or thing. Having trains run effectively between all these cities would be good. In some parts of the country, train travel really is an unrealistic goal, but connecting New England and the MidAtlantic along two routes seems like it could work for ridership (again, I think I said this in my other comment, but the NEC actually pays for itself, and then some–it subsidizes the other train routes in the South or the Midwest; more people take a train between Boston and New York or New York and DC than fly).

      I just want to make sure we’re not doing the equivalent of a NIMBY neighbor declaring that transit must come by their own house in order to be relevant. We should support rail improvements that help other cities too, and the whole network.

      Not a vote for or against, just a thought.

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  6. Today’s Headlines | Streetsblog USA

    […] Will Providence Get Bypassed in Northeast Rail Plan? (RI Future) […]

  7. Barry Schiller

    The Northeast Corridor pays for itself only if you don’t count depreciation and capital needs. There is no way to pay for needed new Hudson tunnels and major upgrades to bridges and electrical systems out of existing revenues. I see no prospects of new rail lines getting the funding or the town support needed, we’d be lucky to get the funding needed to keep the corridor we have in reasonable shape. There are existing rail lines between Boston and NY that could be upgraded somewhat, no reason we should object as it couldn’t threaten Providence service. But even that is expensive and could face local opposition.

    As for Cruz and his attack on New York values, I’ve lived in Texas one summer and north Florida for two years and know there is an element with real hostility to New York which they see as having too many Jews and minorities. I think Cruz was playing in code to anti-Semitism. Living down there I heard about the “Jew York Times” a few times. Lers not underestimate the damage a Cruz could do.

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  8. Ted Nesi’s Saturday Morning Post: Feb. 20 | WPRI 12 Eyewitness News

    […] on RIFuture, Peter Brassard raised a concern about whether the Federal Railroad Administration is trying to replace Providence with Worcester in its future planning for the Northeast Corridor. That could be a tough sell, though, as long as […]

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