At the recent public meeting to do with “High Speed Rail” it was twice stated that the journey time from Richmond to D.C. would be reduced by 20 minutes once the project was complete. In each case the audience reaction was somewhat caustic.
Let us work through the numbers.
- Currently the North East Regional trains from Staples Mill Rd. to Washington Union Station average a journey time of 2 hr 20 min.
- The distance is about 105 miles.
- Hence the average speed is (105/2.33) = 45.1 mph.
If the project moves forward,
- The journey time is reduced to 2 hr.
- Hence the average speed becomes (105/2.00) = 52.5 mph
For reference: Google Maps estimates the I-95 time for the same journey as being 1 hr 52 min — giving an average speed of 56 mph.
High Speed Rail
There is no universally agreed-upon definition of the term “High Speed Rail”. However the following parameters provide a sensible framework:
- Staightaway speeds of 300 km/h (185 mph)
- High voltage overhead catenaries
- No mixing of freight and passenger traffic
- This project does not meet any of the three parameters that help define the term “High Speed Rail”.
- 52.5 mph is not “high speed”.
- Once the project is complete it will be quicker to drive from Richmond to Washington D.C. than to take the train.
For these reasons the term “High Speed Rail” will no longer be used at this blog site in the context of this project. Instead we will refer to it as the ‘HSR Project’.