High Speed Rail Hearings Start in New York State

The first public hearings on a proposed high-speed rail line linking New York City to Niagara Falls will begin this week.

According to the New York State Department of Transportation, the route would travel from NYC north to Albany, then turn west to Schenectady, passing through Utica, Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo before terminating at Niagara Falls, a distance of 463 miles.

Boosting speeds on New York's so-called Empire Corridor service is an idea that's been percolating for some time. But in order to be eligible for federal funding, the state Department of Transportation had to complete an Environmental Impact Statement. Public hearings are a requirement of that process.

The state is studying five alternatives for high-speed rail, ranging from trains traveling 79, 90, and 110 miles per hour; a plan for 125 miles per hour service is also under review, although it would require new, as opposed to existing, track.

The current top allowed speed for trains west of Schenectady is 79 mph, although the actual average speed is slightly lower than 50mph.

Cost estimates for the plan range from $1.7 to $6.2 billion.

The first public hearing will be held Tuesday night in Albany. For the calendar, go here.