Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Keystone Corridor’

Groundbreaking Held for New Depot in Pennsylvania

October 26, 2021
Artists rendering of the planned new station in Coatesville, Pennsylvania.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Oct. 22 in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, to mark the start of construction of a new passenger station.

The $65 million facility will serve Amtrak’s Keystone Corridor and commuter trains of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. It is expected to open in 2025.

It is being built east of the existing station, which has been closed for more than 25 years.

Officials said the original station is located on a curve, which precludes the establishment of ADA-accessible platforms.

The new Coatesville station will have 530-foot-long ADA-accessible high-level platforms with canopies and seating, elevators, ramps, site lighting and security, improved drainage, and surface parking.

Funding is being provided by the Federal Transit Administration ($52 million), Pennsylvania Department of Transportation ($13 million) and Chester County ($700,000).

Keystone Service Schedules Modified

March 27, 2021

Effective through April 16 Amtrak Keystone Service schedules will change due to construction along the route.

Train 664 will depart Harrisburg at 9:20 a.m., operating 10 minutes earlier from Harrisburg to Philadelphia.

Train 611 will operate 20 minutes later from Ardmore to Harrisburg, arriving in Harrisburg at 9:35 a.m.

Train 615 will operate 20 minutes later from Paoli to Harrisburg, arriving in Harrisburg at 4:02 p.m.

Train 661 will depart 5 minutes earlier from Philadelphia and operate 15 minutes later from Ardmore to Harrisburg, arriving in Harrisburg at 10:35 a.m.

Train 663 will depart 5 minutes later from Philadelphia and operate 25 minutes later from Ardmore to Harrisburg, arriving in Harrisburg at 1:10 p.m.

Train 665 will depart 5 minutes later from Philadelphia and operate 25 minutes later from Ardmore to Harrisburg, arriving in Harrisburg at 5:00 p.m.

Train 667 will operate 20 minutes later from Ardmore to Harrisburg, arriving in Harrisburg at 7:05 p.m.

Train 669 will operate 20 minutes later from Ardmore to Harrisburg, arriving in Harrisburg at 9:05 p.m.

Train 646will depart Harrisburg at 9:04 a.m., operating 5 minutes later from Harrisburg to Philadelphia.

Train 666 will depart Harrisburg at 11:35 a.m., operating 15 minutes later from Harrisburg to Philadelphia.

Train 652 will depart Harrisburg at 3:05 p.m., operating 10 minutes later from Harrisburg to Philadelphia.

Train 620 will depart Harrisburg at 8:35 p.m., operating 5 minutes later from Harrisburg to Philadelphia.

Train 605 will operate 10 minutes later from Coatesville to Harrisburg, arriving in Harrisburg at 8:25 a.m.

Train 641 will operate 10 minutes later from Coatesville to Harrisburg, arriving in Harrisburg at 10:56 a.m.

Train 645 will operate 10 minutes later from Coatesville to Harrisburg, arriving in Harrisburg at 3:45 p.m.

Passengers traveling on Trains 605, 641 and 645 will need to board on the normal eastbound platform at Coatesville and Parkesburg.

Keystone Service Slashed With Little Notice

January 6, 2021

With little advance notice Amtrak on Monday slashed Keystone Service in Pennsylvania, citing low patronage.

The state-funded service between New York and Harrisburg via Philadelphia was cut to seven weekday roundtrips with six on weekends.

Three of the roundtrips will operate between New York and Harrisburg while other trains will operate between Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

The new schedule boosts Harrisburg-New York service by one roundtrip.

Six roundtrips plus one additional westbound train have been suspended on weekdays. On weekends, three trains have been suspended.

An Amtrak announcement said the cuts were made “in order to adapt to changing demand.”

It was not the first change to Keystone Service since the COVID-19 pandemic intensified last March.

The service had been cut last spring when the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian also was suspended. The Keystone Service cuts and the Pennsylvanian were restored last June

Weekday trains will now depart Harrisburg for Philadelphia at 5, 6:40 and 8:59 a.m. and 12:05, 3:05, 4:30 and 8:35 p.m.

The 5, 8:59 and 3:05 trains continue to New York Penn Station, which Amtrak is now referring to as the Moynihan Train Hall.

Trains leave Philadelphia for Harrisburg at 5:20, 6:20, and 8:45 a.m. and 1:35, 3:45, 5:35 and 6:42 p.m. Trains leave New York for Harrisburg at 7:17 a.m. and 4:03 and 5:10 p.m.

The schedules and services of the Pennsylvanian are unchanged.

The weekend schedule has trains leaving Harrisburg for Philadelphia at 7:20, 9:30, and 11:35 a.m. and 2:05, 5:05 and 7:05 p.m. The 7:20, 9:30 and 2:05 trains run through to New York.

From Philadelphia to Harrisburg, trains leave at 7:25, 8:30 and 10:50 a.m. and 2:45, 4:55 and 6:55 p.m. rains leave New York for Harrisburg at 9:09 a.m. and 1:05 and 5:17 p.m.

News reports from Pennsylvania media quoted Amtrak spokeswoman Beth Toll as saying Amtrak is experiencing ridership that is 20 percent of what it was before the pandemic.

Railway Age reported that neither Amtrak nor the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation issued a news release in advance of the service cuts to announce the new schedules.

Instead, the intercity passenger carrier and PennDOT cooperated in issuing a service advisory on the morning that the cuts became effective.

The Railway Age report said it remains unclear whether PennDOT or Amtrak decided to made the service cut and when the decision was made.

Amtrak Keystone Line Signals Getting Upgrade

November 18, 2020

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority is working with Amtrak and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to upgrade signaling and train control systems between Paoli and Overbrook on the Keystone Line

The line extends from Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station to Harrisburg, and hosts Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian and Keystone Service trains.

Between Philadelphia and Thorndale, the line also hosts SEPTA’s Paoli-Thorndale regional rail services.

In a news release, Amtrak said the new equipment will “enable greater operational flexibility and higher operating speeds, as well as help reduce delays.

SEPTA obtained a $15.9 million federal grant last month that will make the signaling work possible.

Bill Would Give PennDOT Rail Line Ownership

October 17, 2020

A Pennsylvanian congressman has introduced a bill that would require Amtrak to to transfer ownership of the Keystone East Line between Harrisburg and Philadelphia to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

In a statement Rep. Lloyd Smucker said he introduced the bill, which calls for PennDOT to manage the line and certain stations, because of his disappointment with Amtrak’s management of the line.

The statement claimed that renovation and repair projects have been consistently delayed and over budget. 

“By granting Pennsylvania ownership of the Keystone Line, we can provide greater local control, accountability and expand ridership opportunities,”  Smucker said. 

The line also hosts Southeast Pennsylvania Transit Authority’s Paoli-Thorndale commuter-rail service.

SEPTA in a statement expressed support for the bill, saying it would create opportunities to improve service on the route, which is SEPTA’s highest ridership regional rail line.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives earlier unanimously adopted a resolution urging the U.S. Department of Transportation to transfer the line’s ownership to PennDOT. 

The line hosts two PennDOT-supported Amtrak services, the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian and Keystone Service between Harrisburg and New York via Philadelphia.

The state spends $100 million annually to support those services.

1 Keystone Roundtrip Extended to New York

October 7, 2020

A daily Amtrak Keystone Service roundtrip has been extended to New York.

Starting Oct. 5, Nos. 652 and 641 began operating between New York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Amtrak said the schedule change now means there are two daily New York-Harrisburg roundtrips.

The route is also served by the New York-Pittsburg Pennsylvanian.

Other Keystone trains operate between Harrisburg and Philadelphia. The service is funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Some Keystone Service had been suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Keystone Service schedule now reflects 13 weekday roundtrips and seven roundtrips on weekends.

In an unrelated development, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority has begun phasing out the sale of paper ticket sales on its regional rail system. 

Passengers are being encouraged to use SEPTA’s Key Card, a contactless, reloadable fare card.

Paper tickets previously purchased are valid for up to 180 days from their purchase date.

New York-Harrisburg Keystone to be Restored

July 3, 2020

One New York-Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Keystone Service roundtrip will be restored on July 6.

The restoration is part of an ongoing restoration of service funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation that began June 1.

All Pennsylvania-funded Amtrak service had been suspended on March 18 during the COVID-19 pandemic after the state imposed stay home orders.

The restored New York-Harrisburg trains include No. 640, which is scheduled to leave Harrisburg at 5 a.m. and No. 653, scheduled to depart New York at 5:10 p.m.

Modified Keystone Service that resumed on June 1 will continue operating between Harrisburg and Philadelphia. That includes nine weekday roundtrips and six weekend roundtrips.

In a news release, Amtrak cited increased travel demand for resuming New York-Harrisburg service.

The New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian also resumed operating on June 1.

Amtrak Makes More Service Cuts in the East

March 15, 2020

Amtrak will be making additional service cuts in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Effective on March 15, the Maple Leaf will temporarily cease operating between Toronto and Niagara Falls, New York.

Nos. 63 and 64 will continue to operate between New York and Niagara Falls.

The Adirondack will cease operating north of Albany-Rensselaer, New York, but will continue to operate between New York City and Albany.

Effective March 16 service in the Northeast Corridor will be reduced to a typical Saturday schedule on a daily basis.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said it will continue to maintain frequent service by Acela and Northeast Regional trains to Boston, New York, Washington and Virginia points.

The service reductions in the Northeast Corridor will extend through March 29.

Amtrak earlier had announced reduction of service in the Keystone Corridor to a typical Saturday schedule with service suspended to Ardmore, Pennsylvania.

That service cut does not affect daily operation of the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian.

Also starting March 15 service on the Harford Line and the Valley Flyer will operate on a Saturday schedule on a daily basis.

Amtrak Eyes Service Cuts Due to Lost Revenue, Bookings

March 13, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic may cost Amtrak “several hundred million dollars” due to cancellations and depressed bookings.

The passenger carrier has warned its employees that this may result in significant reductions in service.

Thus far Amtrak has suspended operations of three Acela Express trains and will curtail operations in its Keystone Corridor in Pennsylvania effective today.

In an announcement posted on its website, Amtrak said that in coordination with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Keystone Service will operate on a reduced schedule, with no service to the Ardmore Station.

Effective March 13 Amtrak will operate 18 daily Keystone trains (nine in each direction) along with the Pennsylvanian between New York and Pittsburgh.

All trains will remain in service on the weekend. Amtrak said this schedule reflects the “S” schedule or special schedule that Keystone Service has set for severe weather or other service disruptions.

In an email sent to Amtrak employees earlier this week, the company’s senior vice present and chief operating officer, Stephen Gardner, said the carrier has instituted “aggressive measures to cut costs.”

Gardner said future bookings are down 50 percent compared with a year ago and cancellations are up more than 300 percent.

Amtrak plans to implement a voluntary leave program for “non-mission critical employees” willing to take unpaid time off.

The passenger carrier has also said it is waiving change fees for all trip reservations made before April 30.

It is not just Amtrak that has been affected by the COVID-19 outbreaks. Airlines have reported drops in bookings and are canceling flights.

Also hit hard has been public transportation. Northestar Research Partners said a poll it conducted found that Americans are switching their travel habits from public transit to either staying home or relying more on cars to get around.

Of the 1,000 people surveyed, 48 percent indicated a belief that riding public transit poses a high health risk due to the virus, and 30 percent to 40 percent said they have reduced their use of public transportation.

“People’s movement away from public transit is likely to have long-term consequences,” said Jennifer Yellin, senior vice president and co-lead of Northstar’s transportation practice.

“The implications include lost revenue for public transit authorities, which is ultimately used to upgrade and maintain systems.”

Public transit systems have stepped up cleaning of their rail cars and buses as well as stations.

Amtrak said it will disinfect trains and stations multiple times a day, and, in some cases, on an hourly basis.

New Middletown Station Seen As finished by July 2021

January 18, 2020

Construction of a new Amtrak station in Middletown, Pennsylvania, is expected to be completed by July 2021.

But first the project needs to be put out for bid, a process that began on Dec. 19.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is taking bids that are to be opened on Jan. 29.

PennDOT recently held a meeting for prospective contractors who might wish to bid on the project.

The station will be built along West Main Street on the Amtrak Keystone Corridor.

In preparation for station construction, Amtrak is moving the tracks in the vicinity of the station site.

PennDOT is expected to award the winning construction contract bids in March and to give contractors a notice to proceed on March 16.