Hoping to prompt resolution between CSX Corp. and New York State, the Empire State Passengers Association (ESPA) on Monday declared it supported CSX’s proposed 90 mph speed limit for CSX’s route between Buffalo and Schenectady.
New York’s Department of Transportation, in negotiations with CSX to establish higher-speed rail (HrSR) service upstate, has sought a top speed of 110 mph, prompting objections from CSX, based in part on concerns over crew safety.
In a statement, ESPA President Bruce Becker said, “The immediate needs of New York state's rail passengers are for reduced trip times and improved on-time performance reliability.” He added, “It is critical that New York state and CSX finalize the agreements necessary to allow the currently funded incremental improvement infrastructure projects to proceed forward as quickly as possible, particularly the vital, 110 mph second main track between Albany and Schenectady.”
In response, a CSX spokesman said, “CSX appreciates the comments from the Empire State Passengers Association as we continue to work with the state toward solutions that will provide safe, efficient rail passenger service while ensuring CSX's ability to deliver safe, efficient, green, and economically vital freight rail service to the region.”
The right-of-way in question is part of Amtrak’s Empire Corridor, with current top speeds of 79 mph. Amtrak trains on the Empire Corridor south of Albany can reach 110 mph over short spans of the route.
ESPA’s Becker said accord on a 90 mph speed limit would trigger needed upgrades along the route, including a third track being discussed by CSX and the state to increase capacity. “That, from the passenger's perspective, would increase reliability,” he said.
New York recently received federal funds, reapportioned from Florida’s rejection of high speed rail money, that is target to various portions of the Empire Corridor east of Schenectady, including the second track on the Empire Corridor between Albany and Schenectady, and a fourth track to expand capacity at Rensselaer Station.
Late Tuesday, Amtrak, in a statement, said, “Amtrak has and will continue to work with its partners at the State of New York and the host railroads to provide support and lend its expertise tothe further development of any high speed rail initiatives in the region.”