Tuesday, June 01, 2010

CSX, New York State move ahead on HSR

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CSX officials Tuesday confirmed press reports of an accord reached late last week between the Class I railroad and New York State on implementing HrSR (higher speed rail) along the Empire Corridor, which links Buffalo, Albany, and New York City.

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CSX is the owner of most of the route’s right-of-way, including between Buffalo and Schenectady, where the state is focusing on improving speeds from 79 mph to 110 mph. The agreement does not specify a 110 mph target; CSX has suggested 90 mph would be more readily attainable. Amtrak trains south of Albany reach 110 mph for a short distance.

The state seeks to build a third track along the route to facilitate HrSR passenger trains while minimizing interference with CSX operations. The new track apparently will meet CSX's insistence that it be separated by at least 30 feet from the nearest freight track, something CSX seeks to protect the safety of its workers and equipment. New York had balked at this measure in the past. Some land acquisition by the state may be required to meet this provision.

In a statement, CSX spokesman Robert Sullivan said the agreement “is consistent with CSX Transportation’s commitment to work with state and federal officials to help find ways to safely and efficiently enhance passenger service in upstate New York, while at the same time ensuring the continued delivery and growth of job-creating, vital, green freight rail service.”

“I appreciate CSX’s readiness to do their part to make the promise of high speed rail in New York a reality,” said Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) in a prepared statement. Slaughter has been generally supportive of passenger rail improvement efforts within New York and throughout the U.S.