Re: Get pilot commuter rail project on track, Letters, Oct. 12, 2011.
I question Ted Lewall’s scheme to cheaply modify buses to run on the E&N tracks.
Railway maintenance pickup trucks use different main wheels to make their tires fit the distance between railway tracks — the small flanged wheels keep the truck on the slippery track.
Also note transit buses have dual rear wheels, and are wider than standard pickup trucks — they simply won’t fit unless railway car wheels of proper size and strength are fitted somehow at substantial cost.
As well I ask how fast railway maintenance pickup trucks travel. A transit demonstration project would have to provide a reasonable travel time match to the eventual service, otherwise market response would be under-measured.
So the buses must be able to travel as fast as a normal train, thus must have strength, stability and braking capability equal to normal trains.
Lewalt correctly points to the deplorable state of E&N tracks, which has been obvious for a long time to anyone who looked at the track, but apparently was ignored by the Island Corridor Foundation.
I have pointed to the value of a valid demonstration project, but somehow between the ICF and VIA Rail they’ve impaired the ability to do that by letting the trains and track deteriorate to unsafe condition.
Lewalt would have to prove to me the safety of his scheme before I’d want to be anywhere near his cheaply modified buses, let alone on them.