Amtrak Pitches New Service in Pennsylvania

Amtrak brought its road show to Pennsylvania last week during a virtual round table event designed to drum up political support for federal funding that would enable Amtrak to expand service.

The passenger carrier has proposed expansions in the Keystone state that would bring new service to Scranton, Allentown and Reading, and increased service to Pittsburgh.

Some upgrades would be made to Amtrak’s existing Keystone Service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg.

Amtrak officials said the expanded service could begin in three years but a lot of things would need to fall in place.

Chief among those is Congress approving funding for transportation infrastructure and host railroads agreeing to allow the service.

Amtrak estimates its Pennsylvania expansion plan would attract 1.3 million passengers annually by 2035, with the services contributing $200 million in annual economic impact and $6 billion in incremental economic activity from capital investments in Pennsylvania, based on a projected capital investment needed of $2.7 billion.

Currently, there are two Amtrak services in Pennsylvania funded by the state. The Pennsylvanian between Pittsburgh and New York and the Keystone Service between Harrisburg and Philadelphia handled 1.8 million passengers in fiscal year 2019.

Amtrak has suggested in its Amtrak ConnectUS plan:
    •    New service between Reading – Philadelphia – New York (three daily round trips);
    •    New service between Scranton – New York (three daily round trips);
    •    New service between Allentown – New York (two daily round trips);
    •    Expand Keystone service between Harrisburg – Philadelphia – New York from 12 daily round trips to 17 daily round trips, and reduce trip times by increasing Harrisburg – Philadelphia speeds to 125 mph; and
    •    Expand Pennsylvanian service between Pittsburgh – Philadelphia – New York from one daily round trip to two daily round trips, with one round trip extended to Cleveland.

Participating in the round table event were Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Amtrak President Stephen Gardner, Amtrak CEO William Flynn, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, Allentown Deputy Mayor Leonard Lightner, Scranton Mayor Paige Cognetti, and Greater Reading Chamber Alliance President and CEO Jim Gerlach.

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