And unlike the pharmaceutical marketing ploy with the same initials, this RLS actually does disrupt your blog. (Just kidding).
Anyway, I wanted to take this time to respond to comments left regarding my last post and to ensure everyone that, yes, I am still working on getting the rest of my transit plan out there.
The downtown tunnel idea is interesting, but I'm not sure it's the best use of resources. I'd be more inclined to create the New Blue line for Metro through this part of downtown, offering another connection at Union Station, giving passengers there two lines to access the core of downtown with. I realize that's not part of your scope here, but I think that would be a far more useful investment for the rest of the city, beyond just regional commuters.
Great job, though. Any ideas on how (or even if) to relocate the L'Enfant tracks, as per the NCPC's plan? I've always had in the back of my mind the crazy idea of re-routing all freight traffic outside of the District somehow, and building a new 'South Station' above the air rights on 395, which could then connect up to the existing 1st street tunnel. This would allow Maryland and Virginia Aves to be rebuilt and piece some of that area back together. Also, having a station there means some trains from MD could bypass Union Station by using the current single track tunnel under the SE Freeway to get to the new L'Enfant station.
Just an idea of mine. Great stuff.
I agree. Building a regional rail subway though downtown would not be cheap. It certainly should not come at the expense of the M Street Subway either. In my opinion building a subway to relieve chronic overcrowding in the Blue/Orange subway should be one of the region's highest priorities. But a regional rail subway serves a different purpose. It would make somewhat of a dent in getting Maryland commuters off of the busy Red Line, and could encourage more riders to ride. It worked in Philadelphia and I think it fits here as well.
As for the Virginia and Maryland Avenue tracks near L'Enfant Plaza, I think that they must remain in passenger service, if nothing else. There is no other direct route for passenger trains to use from Alexandria to Union Station, and service to L'Enfant is vital to our region. Freight service, on the other hand, is less desirable in the corridor. I don't see an easy way to relocate the tracks, however. Improvements will need to be made, as this corridor is an increasingly busy freight corridor through the Northeast.
Love the plan. On the Baltimore end, though, why not continue along the old Baltimore Belt Line base Mt. Royal? Instead of joining up with the NE Corridor, this would give stops in southern Charles Village (at 25th St.) and Cold Spring before ultimately joining back with the NE Corridor in East Baltimore. I believe MARC actually has such an idea in its long-range plan.
You are correct. The MTA has plans to use the Baltimore Belt-Line right-of-way to connect the Mount Royal Tunnel. I felt, however, that a connection between the regional rail line M1 at Penn Station was important to link commuters coming from the Perryville/Wilmington corridor to downtown Baltimore. Remember, I'm proposing bi-directional service of 15-30 minutes, which is better than light rail service is at present. A station at the Baltimore Belt-Line Railway and Charles Street is only 8 tenths of a mile north of Penn Station, approximately 15 minutes walking. While it would be great to serve Charles Village, I think it is outweighed by making a transfer available at Penn Station.
I am glad you commented though. This is the kind of feedback that I like. On a side note, at one point I considered running the M1 up Charles Street/York Road in subway to Towson. I think a light or heavy rail extension would do more justice to the corridor though.
I'm pretty sure that MARC already has plans to extend Penn Line service up to Wilmington. Don't have a link handy, sorry.
You are correct--sort of. I linked the document in the post "Make No Little Plans I", which I posted a day prior to this one. MTA's plans only call for an extension to Newark, Delaware, where passengers could connect to Philadelphia's SEPTA regional rail service. The link, if you want to see it, is: http://mtamaryland.com/projects/marc%20plan%20full.pdf
One thing I think you missed is regional rail service to Loudon County. (e.g. Leesburg and beyond)
Interesting idea. I would be glad to hear suggestions about getting to Leesburg, though. Unfortunately, one of the most difficult parts of transportation planning is figuring out how to penetrate the urban core. With commuter/regional rail, usually existing train tracks are used. There are none in this case. I suppose one could use the W&OD right-of-way, which is currently a biking/walking facility. However, the Silver Line will be making stops as far as Route 772 (Ryan Road) in a few years if the FTA decides to fund it. If they don't fund the Silver Line, I doubt they'll fund regional rail out there.
Anonymous: (from Make No Little Plans I)
The issue is not one of safety, but clearance. The freight railroads that own both of VRE's lines and the MARC Camden and Brunswick Lines require low platforms because freight cars are wider than passenger cars. You'll note that the only high platform stations on these all four of these routes are at Greenbelt and Camden Yards. Greenbelt has two "loop" tracks for passenger service only, meaning that at Greenbelt MARC Station, there are four tracks and freight trains never use those adjacent to the platforms. Camden Yards Station is off of the CSX main line, because it is north of the point where the freight trains dive into the Howard Street Tunnel.
So, as long as commuter trains operate on freight tracks (as opposed to separate ones alongside), we'll have to deal with the low-platform issue. The alternative would be to build stations like Greenbelt at every location, but that is infeasible in a lot of places with space constraints, like Downtown Manassas.
All of you, thanks for the input! I'd love to have more comments. Stay tuned for the rest of my transit plan, due out as soon as I can get it.