MattW wrote: ↑Mon Dec 23, 2019 8:56 am
So is the new service going to be on entirely separated tracks then? For both directions? Unless they're ready to build a new double-track railroad, that seems very short-sighted and inefficient.
The articles written about this seem to say that four tracks from DC to Richmond is eventually in the plans.
This is good, but we should also bear in mind that the RF&P is a very old route - and has quite a lot of constraints that will make turning it into a world-class railroad pretty difficult. Much of the route is quite curvy meaning that even with electrification, it would still be slow.
The current plan calls for only minor realignments, mostly within the existing right-of-way. This makes sense as an endgame north of Quantico, where the right-of-way is pretty much hemmed in by the river, by development, or both - making anything more than minor curve changes difficult.
South of Quantico, however, things change. Much of the route goes across the countryside, where there would be few things (other than trees) to stand in the way of building a true high speed alignment. When there is enough service planned to merit four tracks all the way to Richmond, I hope that a full electrified HSR route, with top speeds north of 200 and no curves slower than 150, might be on the agenda as a part of that. This would involve quite a bit of greenfield construction, including high speed bypasses of Fredericksburg and Ashland. Going passenger-only would allow for steeper grades, up to 3 or 4%, instead of the typical 1% max allowed for freight, so that might make it easier to find a route without quite so much earth moving. Regardless, it would cost a pretty penny - but worth it, given how many routes funnel into the NEC through Richmond. Hey, it might even make sense as a demonstration next gen HSR project for Amtrak.