Wow! I have been evangelizing about the benefits a healthy passenger railroad system brings to America and how much Positive Train Control will help by increasing the maximum speeds to 95 mph and eventually to 110 mph... And now I find out that The Acela and the Wolverine aren't the only trains that exceed the 79 mph limit! I would never have guessed that the NE Regional has a 125 mph limit. Is this for the portions of the track that are north of NY? I have ridden DC to NY quite a few times and I thought we were moving at 80 mph, tops.
No, the Regionals and even the Metroliners before Acela routinely hit tops speeds of 125 MPH betweeen NY & DC. There are places where they can't go that fast, but there are also several places where they do hit 125.
Will PTC actually increase the speeds the trains are moving at, or will the increase in top speed be limited to trains out west and/or generally be used just to make up time after delays? I guess I had hoped that the scheduled times would actually reflect increased speeds and decreased trip times, but if so many lines already have speed limits over 79 mph, then maybe the effects of PTC won't be as noticeable as I thought.
PTC is only part of the equation. The track must also be maintained to a level that permits faster speeds. I suspect that in most cases, unless Amtrak is given the money to pay the freight RR's, that most RR's will not maintain the tracks to that level.
I have doubted that the US has the population density and the common sense required to build a true high speed rail system without breaking the bank, and I had thought that the mid-speed (110-120 mph) rail might be a way to get Americans used to using rail. Finding out that several routes are already using relatively high speed, by American standards, makes me a little less optimistic that 110 mph routes will help us get a better passenger rail system.
Well part of the problem is that some people don't consider 110 MPH to be high speed and therefore don't consider the success of those trains to be proof that even higher speeds will work. Part of the problem is that most people don't even realize that any trains outside of the NE even run at high or higher speeds. And then of course there are those who just have the attitude that if they won't ride it, then no money should be spent on it.