Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rails to Worcester

In 1959, through trains (4 each way daily) made the run from Worcester to Boston in 58 minutes, with stops with baggage handling at Framingham, Wellesly Farms and South Station. The run from Springfield to Boston took 2 hours and 1 minute, with additional stops in Auburn and Palmer.

With the tracks in comparable condition, including restoring double-tracking where necessary, and using modern rolling stock - not super-trains, just light-weight high-speed cars, with traction on every axle, that lean into the turns - it should be possible to average 20% higher speeds. Cut 2 minutes from every 1959 stop for no baggage and higher acceleration, but add a minute each for 10 or 12 commuter stops, and commuter trains could run hourly from Boston to Springfield in less than 1 hour 40 minutes, and less than 50 minutes from Worcester to Boston.

Expensive? Yes. Pie in the sky? No.

Passenger service never did make money directly. The railroads recouped the expense of providing commuter and inter-city passenger rail service by 'speculating' in land, purchasing it low and re-selling at a huge profit when its value was increased by their investment and service.

As a society we have to start doing that kind of accounting, looking at the value added to our communities by government investment and services - and at how to recover some of it for the cost - not just looking at the bottom line of government balance sheets.
Post a Comment