PHILADELPHIA is in the heart of the Northeast rail corridor, where more than 2,000 passenger trains move 75,000 riders daily between Washington,D.C. and Boston on speed-restricted tracks across aging bridges and through ancient tunnels, powered by 1930s-era equipment.
The whole system needs an extreme makeover as desperately as the Phillies do.
Yesterday, at SEPTA headquarters in Center City, the Federal Railroad Administration's NEC (Northeast Corridor) FUTURE program unveiled a public glimpse of what that makeover might be by 2040.
If the most forward-thinking plans become reality, riders here could see faster rail service between Washington, D.C. and Boston, the quadrupling of intercity service, longer regional trains delivering more frequent peak service, new direct service to Philadelphia International Airport and new stations there and in Center City.
The NEC FUTURE vision includes access to many more towns by rail, as illustrated by this Philadelphia hypothetical:
Amy from Aberdeen, Md., is a Temple University student who rarely goes home during a school semester because intercity rail travel is too expensive and bus schedules are inconvenient.
If the NEC FUTURE plan expands direct service to more locations like Aberdeen, presumably the increased service and decreased price would allow Amy to go home often.
NEC FUTURE program manager Rebecca Reyes-Alicea said that the plans, begun in 2012, won't be finalized until 2016, after a public vetting process.
While the alternatives to the maximum action plan include a "No Action" option and simply maintaining the status quo, the likelihood is that those are not realistic strategies for moving toward 2040 and beyond.