Pa. Pushing Travel Aboard Keystone Trains

Pennsylvania has launched a program to promote travel within the state aboard Amtrak’s Keystone Service trains.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation in cooperation with Amtrak has created a website, to show places to visit by train between Harrisburg and Philadelphia, and launched Access the Keystone, a study to identify ways in which different modes of transportation might be used to travel to and from train stations across the state.

Patronage on the Keystone Line has grown significantly since 2006, with 1.3 million trips last fiscal year, up from 890,000.

More improvements are planned, including a renovation of the State interlocking plant in Harrisburg. When that work is done, trains will be able to switch tracks more swiftly, cutting the 90-minute trip from Harrisburg to Philadelphia by three to four minutes.

Craig Schulz, a spokesman for Amtrak, said the company would love to see improvements made on the Norfolk Southern route west of Harrisburg used by the Pittsburgh-New York Pennsylvanian.

“From Amtrak’s perspective, anything that’s going to create better conditions for operations of trains is something we are very interested in,” he said.  A study begin in 2011 examined the feasibility of reducing the travel time of the Pennsylvanian as well as increasing train frequency west of Harrisburg.

The study was completed in May 2013, but hasn’t yet been released to the public; the Federal Railroad Administration is still reviewing it.  “We anticipate that the study will be complete before the end of the year,” said FRA spokesman Michael England. “Once complete, the study will be available to the public on our website.”

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