2nd trick op wrote:The Empire Corridor probably demonstrates the core issues that frustrate the development of a workable short-to-medium-distance intercity rail passenger network more directly than any other part of Amtrak. It has the demographics, the geographic structure (no major mountain grades) and the political climate necessary to develop and support an intercity service with sufficient frequency to attract a loyal clientele, but is probably the line most severely limited by freight-dispatching conflicts as well.
But on a positive note, it is also the most likely theater in which these conflicts could be resolved. Assuming that separation of high-speed vs freight traffic is a must in the name of safety, either four-tracking could be reinstated along the current route (with sufficent safety barriers), alternate routes, such as the former Erie-Lackawanna could be utilized for freight, or discarded grades reopened (At least three alternatives exist between Buffalo and Batavia alone.)
Finally, it cannot be emphasized strongly enough to the general public that, like the Northeast Corridor and the completely-new services in Europe and Japan, a project of this magnitude will require planning over a very long term. I would also remind our little Parliament that the voters are less fiscally-conservative when the money goes for "bricks and mortar" than to add yet another bureaucracy.
Between Albany and New York there are only a couple of freight trains a
day each way including CSX and CPR. There is no need for more trackage in this area and passenger trains generally make a good run and
usually are on time or at least make their running time.
West of Schenectady it is a different story with many freight trains in both
directions day and night. The best solution for truly decent high speed
or higher speed should I say passenger service in this area would be for
the state to buy the present tracks from CSX and using the existing right
of way, build two new tracks for CSX freight trains. Remember, this entire
line was four tracks at one time so this would generally not be too
difficult over most of the route. In many places the bridges are even still
in place. Between Buffalo and Batavia there is only one line still in use
and that is the present CSX route but again there is room for two more
tracks in this area. The other routes have for the most part, not only been
abandoned and removed but the bridges are gone and some of the
property is gone too. A cheaper and better solution to the above would
be to put in a third track all the way and use higher speed crossovers and
probably more of them too. This could be better but I doubt if they would
get much cooperation from CSX which just does not want passenger trains
of any kind on their railroad.