One of the things I was waiting on last year was delivery of Pennsylvania’s feasibility study for improvements on the “Keystone West” corridor. The “Keystone East” corridor connecting Harrisburg and Philadelphia was upgraded in 2006, with an electrified corridor with speeds of up to 110mph providing travel times competitive with driving, especially in the suburban Philadelphia area. So when a “Keystone West” feasibility study was announced, there were high hopes in some quarters that some substantial improvements might be made on the “Keystone West” corridor, connecting Pittsburgh with Harrisburg, currently hosting only the Pennsylvanian between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
The feasibility study is was originally promised for substantially earlier, with a final draft completed in May 2013 but the trip from final draft to final report took more than a year, being finally published in August of last year (pdf).
A quick review of the Executive Summary reveals that a range of things can be done to improve the Keystone West, which could trim something less than an hour from the current five and a half hour trip to Harrisburg (with a further hour and a half to Philadelphia). It also takes a look at, and quickly dismisses an Express HSR corridor.
But for some reason … while it considers an option to add a third passenger-only track on the Keystone West, it completely ignores the option of a Rapid Rail speed upgrade on that track … despite the fact that a Rapid Rail speed upgrade was part of what made the Keystone East project successful. So I’ll take a look at this curious hole in the feasibility study, below the fold.