High-Speed Rail, Americas Next Frontier in Transportation

The Government and Amtrak are finally making moves to improve the nations fast growing transportation issues.  With the congested transportation network of the  growing Megaregion referred to as the North East Corridor, current systems can not handle the level of projected growth the region will experience over the next 20 years.  Intercity transportation is becoming an increasingly crucial factor in the economic growth and stability of cities far and between D.C and Baltimore.

In September Amtrak unveiled its $117 billion high-speed rail plan for the Northeast Corridor.  Last wednesday a panel began tallying up the potential economic benefit to the Philadelphia region.  Some areas will benefit tremendously such as Market East, with a new HSR terminal planned for east market street.  The terminal will jump start economic development along the corridor.  In the past, large influxes of cash, mostly federal dollars have spurred earlier development along the corridor like the Gallery, the present Market East Station, and the current expansion of the Convention Center.  High-Speed rail could be the massive capital event the city has been waiting for, providing an estimated $236 billion a year in economic benefits throughout the North East.  The speed of the proposed line is said to top out at 220 miles per hour, a huge improvement from current Acela speeds of 155 mph.  These top speeds will top similar lines over seas such as France (TGV), Japan (Shinkansen), Spain (AVE), and the Germany (ICE).  The improvement in service times could turn Philadelphia into a "super-bedroom community" for New York by essentially making a commute to the Big Apple take about the same time as a trip to Paoli, said John Connors, managing partner at Brickstone Realty in Philadelphia.

The line would enable Philadelphia businesses to attract employees living in Connecticut and entice New York- based companies to relocate back-office and operational divisions to Philadelphia.  Under the proposal, the section connecting New York to Philadelphia, which is expected to cost $20 billion, would be constructed first over a time span of 12 years beginning in 2015.  The eight car, 400 passenger train would first stop at 30th Street Station, then at the New Market East Station scheduled for a later phase of the project.  The next phase would extend service to Washington D.C. and later extend north to Boston.  The Boston to Washington corridor is set to be completed by the year 2040.

When all is said and done, travel times between Boston and Washington will be as low as 4 hours, Washington to New York 1:55, and New York to Boston 1:46.

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