The timing of The Inquirer’s recent front-page article on proposed AMTRAK northeast corridor high speed rail changes was interesting, coming just days after an AMTRAK train to New York was incorrectly routed onto SEPTA tracks. Anyone who has spent many years working in the rail transportation industry, as I have, can only wonder at who at AMTRAK is coming up with the impractical/high cost proposals noted in the Inquirer article.

The article refers to the NEC as "an antiquated system prone to failures and delays". Just saw a news report this morning about how smoothly this "antiquated system" has operated over Thanksgiving. The NEC is a four track electrified line that is already maintained for the highest passenger train speeds in the country.

The projected cost of proposed changes is $151 billion. With the usual federal government incompetence and cost over-runs the real number is probably $500 billion. The stated plan is to increase top speed to 220 MPH and reduce transit time from Philadelphia to New York to 37 minutes, One problem with this is that AMTRAK's Acela trains are already going over 100 m.p.h. and making the run in about 70 minutes. Where is the benefit of spending all of this taxpayer money? Only a small percentage of the train schedules between New York and Philadelphia would even be able to operate at these speeds. To make a 37-minute run the train can have no scheduled stops. Most of the trains stop at stations like Trenton and Newark along the way.

Conveniently ignored in the Inquirer article is the cost of the high speed equipment needed and the annual cost of maintaining a railroad to handle these high speeds. Implementing the proposals in the Inquirer article would result in an endless crushing burden on the taxpayer for which most taxpayers will receive zero benefit.

Joe Bowers, Phoenixville,

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