Jeff Smith wrote:Andrew, you have a point. You would miss Hartford and S'Field. You would get the drawbridges, and track curvature, of the NEC.
However, you'd also miss a CSX single track line not capable of very good speed, at least not past Worcester. Not that the P&W line is any faster (I think it's P&W and not Pan Am or CT So), but it does follow a well-developed corridor currently lacking any service, and, as someone else here pointed out, a more likely to be compliant freight host. Also, keep in mind, CT owns much of the Class III/Short-Line trackage in the state, and licenses out the operation thereof (case in point: HRRC above New Milford). If they don't own it, there's always the carrot-stick approach; we'll fund some track improvements and maintenance if you let us run some pax trains.
As for your route suggestion, I don't have a CDOT map handy; I'm pretty sure there are a few lines that trail along I 84 but are probably land-banked and not active freight or rail banked. I'm not sure what's left of the old inland route north or east of Hartford/New Haven. I think if CT or MA want an alternate bad enough, they could run it along the highway ROW maybe.
Being in one-a-day land, I'm not all that sympathetic to an area with 30-odd a day
Looking at the B&A on Google Maps... yikes, but it's curvy, and more so than the P&W or the Amtrak Springfield line. It's not as bad from WOR to BOS, but from SPG to WOR it looks to be nearly double the length of the interstate. I still think that routing is a better choice in terms of population, but without major realignment, Amtrak would never be able to run anywhere near as quickly as on the Shore Line. The P&W would be faster, but all you're accomplishing is to bypass Rhode Island in favor of small towns in Connecticut and a city in Massachusetts that already has commuter service.
There isn't a route that directly parallels I-84, but the old Air Line from Middletown to Putnam (connecting via active rail to New Haven and Worcester on either end) is railbanked and could theoretically be reactivated. It's not ideal at all though, missing all major cities between New Haven and Worcester and only hitting Middletown, Willimantic and Thompson, small cities at best. That's why I suggested using the I-84 right-of-way, specifically from East Hartford to the intersection with I-90, then along I-90 to a point about a mile west of I-290 where it could rejoin the B&A. Eh, if it were a fantasy world, that would be only a small dream, but in this world it's a big sum of money.
Connecticut rail map, with owners, operators (freight and rail) and railbanked segments: http://www.ct.gov/dot/lib/dot/documents ... ils2x3.pdf