Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian’

Amtrak Pitches New Service in Pennsylvania

September 17, 2021

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.

Ida’s Aftermath Hinders Amtrak Service

September 3, 2021

Flooding and other complications left by the remnants of Hurricane Ida played havoc with the operations of some Amtrak trains this week.

The storm dumped more than seven inches of rain in New York, prompting Amtrak to cancel service between Boston and Washington, and between New York and Albany-Rensselaer, New York.

Amtrak said its Moynihan Train Hall in New York remained operational, but some trains were terminated or held at intermediate stations due to safety concerns.

They included the eastbound Cardinal, which was held at Trenton, New Jersey, Tuesday night for nearly 12 hours.

The westbound Capitol Limited was held for two hours at Cumberland, Maryland. By the time it reached Pittsburgh it was almost five hours late.

No. 29 arrived in Cleveland at 8:01 a.m. Thursday, five hours and eight minutes late. It ultimately reached Chicago five hours, 43 minutes late.

The westbound Lake Shore Limited on Thursday was suspended between New York and Albany, but will operate from Albany to Chicago.

This same schedule modification will continue on Friday.

The New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian and New York-Philadelphia Keystone Corridor trains are expected to resume operating on Friday.

Adventures at the 1985 NRHS Convention

August 14, 2021

An Amtrak Metroliner set passes through Lancaster station.

At the Strasburg Rail Road.


At Mt. Holly Springs


Steamers at the Gettysburg Railroad.

Two favorite destinations of mine over the past few years have been the Strasburg Rail Road with the visit of Norfolk & Western 611 and Horseshoe Curve near Altoona.

Way back in August 1985 when I visited these places they had a very different look.

The event was the 1985 NRHS Convention based out of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Of the four 4 steamers in operation during our venture, only one will eventually be steaming again, hopefully. Two of the locomotives in operation at Strasburg from the collection of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania were Pennsylvania Railroad 4-4-2 No. 7002 and PRR 4-4-0 No. 1223. They were the stars of the convention.

A few years later they were returned to the collection across the street at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.

Another trip was an excursion on the Gettysburg Railroad. Steamers at the Gettysburg were Canadian National 2-8-2 No. 3254 and Huntingdon & Broad Top 2-8-0 No. 38.

The 3254 was traded to Steamtown National Historic Site for Canadian Pacific No. 1278.

H&BT No. 38 is now at the Everett Railroad. It is the locomotive to be restored, hopefully, in the near future.

The convention concluded with an Amtrak special from Lancaster to Horseshoe Curve/Gallitzin and return.  As you can see this was during the Conrail years.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Day on the East Slope

June 23, 2021

About three weeks ago I took a trip to Altoona, Pennsylvania, and railfanned the east slope of the former Pennsylvania Railroad Alleghany Mountain grade.

Here is a selection of some of my photographs, all of which were taken at Bennington Curve.

In order they include a downhill stack train, Amtrak’s westbound Pennsylvanian, and an eastbound coal train that had the PRR heritage leading and the Lehigh Valley heritage as a DPU

Photographs by Todd Dillon

Amtrak Anniversary Saturday: A Photo Tribute to 50 Years of Amtrak

April 30, 2021

With Amtrak’s 50th anniversary being Saturday I’ve selected a small sample of Amtrak in each decade. Over the years I’ve ridden many trains throughout the country either myself or with family and friends. So many that I rode I also photographed trackside at some point.

For the 1970s, here is the westbound Lake Shore Limited at Madison in July 1977.

For the 1980s, I’ve chosen the Lake Shore Limited again, this time headed eastward in Cleveland on Aug. 29, 1984.

The 1990s tribute is the California Zephyr eastbound in Byers Canyon of Colorado on June 28, 1988. I also included the Vermonter northbound at Hartford, Vermont in fall 1998, and the eastbound Southwest Chief in Albuqerque on May 6, 1991.

For the 2000s I present the Empire Builder eastbound at Red Wing, Minnesota, on June 19, 2002; and the westbound Maple Leaf at St. Johnsville, New York, on Sept. 7, 2002.

For Amtrak’s fifth decade here is the eastbound Empire Builder at East Glacier, Montana, crossing Two Medicine Bridge on July 23, 2016, and the eastbound Pennsylvanian at Summerhill, Pennsylvania, on May 18, 2019.

Now, about that image of No. 49 made in Madison in 1977, yes, it has some flaws.

Here is how Ed explained those: “Believe it or not that is the only Amtrak photo I took in the ‘70s of an Amtrak train.

“Back then I used my Dad’s camera, which was not a 35 mm film camera. The shot was either the first or the last on the negative and when we got it back a giant staple was in it.

“I did not take many photos back then since I shot a lot with the regular 8 mm movie camera.

“I have more movies at that same location. What was always tough with the photos back then was when No. 49 came hrough Madison [I] was looking directly into the early morning sun.

“Amtrak had the early year flaws just like my photo.”

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Winter Storm Disrupts Amtrak Service

February 1, 2021

A winter storm on Sunday prompted Amtrak to cancel several services in the East.

Among them was the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian. Keystone Service between New York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, via Philadelphia operated on a limited schedule.

Also operating on limited or modified schedules was Northeast Regional Service between Boston and Virginia, and Empire Service between New York and Albany-Rensselaer, New York.

All Acela service between Boston and Washington was canceled.

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.

Pa. Rail Plan Calls for 2nd New York-Pittsburgh Amtrak Train

November 18, 2020

The draft version of the Pennsylvania state rail plan calls for a second Amtrak train between Pittsburgh and New York City in the 2023-24 fiscal year.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is currently conducting a feasibility plan for the train that will include projected costs.

The train would use the current route of the Pennsylvanian, which travels the tracks of Norfolk Southern between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.

Projected ridership of the route would increase from 215,000 in the 2018-19 fiscal year to 378,000 by 2025 if the second train is launched.

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.

When the Pennsylvanian Saw Daylight in Northeast Ohio

November 15, 2020

I enjoyed the few years that Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian ran through Ohio in the late 1990s to early 2000s.

I rode from Cleveland at least twice with family members to Harrisburg and return.

I also rode to Altoona, twice to Pittsburgh and several times just to Alliance. When I wasn’t riding I would be trackside to photograph, make video or just watch.

Here are some of my favorite trackside images of the Pennsylvanian in Ohio.

In the top image, the westbound train is arriving in Alliance where a group of us will board to return to Cleveland during an Akron Railroad Club outing on May 16, 1999.

Next up is a westbound at Hines Hill Road in Hudson on July 25, 1999, followed by the eastbound passing the former Pennsylvania Railroad station in Sebring on Sept. 9, 2001.

In the final image of the sequence, Marty Surdyk introduced me to the Garfield sag after we caught the Pennsylvanian  in Sebring on Sept. 9.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas