Dept. of Transportation considers high speed rail system

Jon Curnow via/Flickr
March 6, 2014

New York state transportation planners have opened the discussion about the best way to speed up train travel through upstate New York.

Passenger trains running between Buffalo and New York City right now run at about 50 miles per hour and are often slowed more by competing freight train traffic.

There are five plans DOT officials have presented this week to the public on how to improve on that. They would increase the speed trains run from 90 to even 125 miles per hour, which would shave two hours off a train ride from Syracuse to New York City. Reaching the top speed would require an entirely new rail corridor to be built, though.

The faster the speed, the higher the costs, says DOT spokesman Beau Duffy. But he says faster rail travel is also better for the economy.

“When you reduce travel times, when you can make it convenient for business people to take the train from Syracuse to NYC in as much or less time as it would take to drive, you’re creating the ability for there to be more interaction,” says Duffy.

The state received a few hundred million dollars in federal money for the project, which is already including smaller upgrades, like new signals through the Syracuse area.

Duffy says they’re a ways away from new rail being laid down. Several studies need to be done and then funding secured. He says the benefits are worth the wait though.