Amtrak’s plan for Northeast Corridor Improvements.

My local paper had this article in it the other day.

The “Preferred Alternative: A Vision for Growth of the Northeast Corridor,” as laid out at, shows tunnels, trenches, embankments and “aerial structures” carving new routes through the highly developed corridor.

Those and other improvements, from Washington, D.C., to Boston, would boost capacity and shorten travel times, the FRA said.

But, local officials and one commuter advocate aren’t swooning over the plan, which could entail extensive property seizures and massive construction in densely populated communities.

“Be careful what you wish,” said Jim Cameron, founder of the Commuter Action Group, which represents Metro-North Railroad and Shore Line East riders. “If the state basically said to the Federal Railroad Administration, ‘We endorse going along the coast,’ now they’re going to have to look at the consequences of this realignment, because it’s massive disruption in some of the most affluent communities in the state.”

Cameron said an inland route following Interstate 84 would achieve “true world-class high-speed rail” without disrupting densely populated coastal communities.

According to the FRA, the Preferred Alternative would increase the number of trains and improve performance along the Northeast Corridor. The number of trains running daily from Penn Station to Boston, for example, would increase from 19 to 94. The travel time would decrease from three hours and 30 minutes to two hours and 45 minutes.

To boost capacity and improve performance between New York City and Boston, the FRA has recommended improvements to the existing line and adding several new segments. Among the latter would be new two-track segment, beginning west of the New Rochelle station and continuing into Fairfield County. The segment would allow for more trains to operate between New York and Boston and allow express trains to pass local or freight trains, the FRA said.

Here’s the NEC Future site

Here is the page for the “preferred alternative.”

They hid the more or less detailed map in the Enivronmental Impact Statement, but here it is.

One thing that I see is that the people who wrote this up probably did it with the map in hand and haven’t really seen the area, at least in my neighborhood.  Now the map shows RTE 95 as being relatively straight and flat.  As somebody who has traversed that stretch of  RTE 95 thousands of times, it’s neither.  That stretch is scary enough at 65, let alone at 150 mph+ . The fact is that coastal Ct through Fairfield and New Haven Counties is mostly ridge and valleys all running North and South.  The Original New Haven Line(now Metro North’s New Haven Line) ran as close to the coast as possible and even then is mostly cuts and embankments.  Along with curves, lots of them.  Those curves have been the bane of the railroad’s existence since it was laid out back in the 1850’s

Still the RTE 95 route is even worse.  What interesting is that according to the NEC Future website, most of the route through Fairfield County will be “aerial structures.” That’s especially true of the route through Greenwich and Stamford.  Which tells me that these people are either not serious about actual improvements to the NEC or really want to stick it to a bunch of wealth and well connected people with lots of clout. Because I know what Aerial structures for high speed trains means.

Here’s a picture of the Tohoku Shinkansen structure near Omiya Station.


The is typical aerial structure high speed railbed in Japan.  It’s also something that would never fly in here in CT.  Even out in the eastern part of the state, the opposition is stiff and in Fairfield County the opposition would be incredible.

The funny thing to me is that the “preferred alternative” didn’t eve address the biggest opportunity for real improvement, a tunnel through east Bridgeport to eliminate the 35 MPH Jenkins curve.  Right now the tunnel and a new station could be built relatively cheaply because East Bridgeport is mostly empty lots with various and sundry development plans that have gone awry.  Yet the rout through Bridgeport, with it’s 19th Century  roadway is kept intact while the route messes around in Greenwich and Stamford real estate.   Which tells me that the whole thing can’t really be taken seriously. Which is a shame because the improvements are really needed and all this did was waste money that could have been spent on other things that Amtrak needs or even better, not spent at all.

A Train Trip Through Switzerland

I found these wonderful videos recently.  Japanese railfans have the advantage of being able to shoot videos through the front windows of trains in Japan.  YouTuber iso8 was invited by Swiss Federal Railways to shoot from the cab of a train through the Gotthard tunnel.  These videos were the result.


The Gotthard Tunnel. Airolo-Goschenen

Note the spacing of trains in the opposite direction.  This is a very busy railroad.

Part 3: Goschenen-Arth Goldau

Beautiful scenery and mountain railroad that climbs downgrade with loops and tunnels. You can also see the work for the approaches for the Gotthard Base tunnel.  Even if the new tunnel itself is open, the amount of track realignment projects and improvements to existing facilities are a massive project all by themselves.


Tracks To The Trenches


The static fronts of World war 1 created a unique logistics situation.  this was especially true due to the great numbers of troops and artillery involved and the sheer amount of material that needed to be provided. In 1914-1918 the truck was still in it’s infancy and the traditional use of horse or mule transport simply could not keep up with the demands of modern industrial war.  Standard gauge rail could get material almost to the front, but the size of standard gauge equipment and track meant that trying to get damaged track back into operation over war torn ground just was not feasible.  A different solution was needed. Enter the light rail. Here’s a video of the American AEF light rail operations.  The operations of all the combatants on the western front were similar.

Read More

Media Fail?

Recently there was an accident on the NJ Transit into Hoboken Terminal.  The media has been all over this. Unfortunately the media doesn’t seem to have the skills in backgrounding that it once had.  Putting people in front of cameras, yes.  Getting the story, other than mindlessly repeating the same thing over and over, no.

Read More


Tour Around The Yamanote Line With Akihabara News



Akihabara News and have short videos of the Yamanote line station chimes with short tours of the Neighboring station areas. These are wonderful little videos.  They have released the first batch of six. Here they are.







I will add the rest as they show up

Riding the train

My previous Yamamanote line post.


The Power Of The Internet

When I was growing up, one of the things I hated was the research paper.  Every year through middle school and high school we would have to do at least one.  I hated them first because my handwriting was terrible and typing was a pain. The largest reason I hated them was that the actual research was frustrating.  Those of us of a certain age know how it worked.  You were given a topic and off you went to first the school library and then the local main library hoping they had more than one book on whatever the topic was.  And then you would have to put together enough material to make up a ten page paper, with footnotes, which can be difficult when there aren’t very many notes to foot. Frankly as I think about it now, I’m not sure why I didn’t go down to the NYPL just a short distance from Grand Central, but I suspect that I thought that the library was for real researchers, not high school students.  Hey I was a kid and stupid. In any case the typical research paper was a combination of hard fought finds and vivid imagination.

The frustrating part is that you always know that there was more out there if you could just access it. In the  1970’s  that was not possible without a budget for travel and the ability to access library catalogs.  That ‘s why many books you found did not seem to be complete or very deep.  There just was no possible way to have access to enough information to get the full picture.  In order to create a book and get it published, you had to do the best you could and get as much as you could within your budget and then write well enough to give as good a picture as you could

The internet changed that completely.  I ran into that when I was working on the Akihabara post last night. First of all before the internet, doing something like that, say for a magazine would have been expensive and difficult. you would  have to go there and take pictures and go through the magazine’s archives and possibly the NYPL for whatever you could find, look through the stock footage libraries and hope that there was some historical pictures, and go with what you had as the deadline approached.  Now, it was one link to a website with some stuff including this picture of the Akihabara freight station.

Now I’ve been to Akihabara and I look for railroad stuff

so I was interested in where it was.  Now in the 1970’s that would have an unrequited impossible search.  Now it was the work of a google search and some digging through sites to find still more pictures, map location, track maps and other information about this interesting facility.

Getty images has stock photos and video.

There are Japanese sites with yet more history.

And ariel photos.

And track maps.



All this from just one picture and a little searching.  This is just ONE of the searches I did today.  With a little more work, this would make a complete article in many of the magazines back in the day. put together in minute, with probably too much information, but I can live with that.