Posts Tagged ‘Pennsylvania’

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.

Pa. to Fund Rail Freight Projects

January 13, 2021

Pennsylvania will provide $31.3 million in funding for 26 rail freight improvement projects through the state’s Rail Transportation Assistance Program and Rail Freight Assistance Program.

The projects range from $8.4 million to CSX to increase clearance in a tunnel to provide double-stack and auto rack clearance to the Port of Philadelphia to $130,900 to Winfield Storage of Union County to rebuild 400 feet of track and build an unloading pit and conveyor to transload agricultural products.  Other recipients included:

• Boyd Station, $2.6 million, for construction of four new tracks and installation of unloading equipment.

• Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad, $700,000, for replacement of some 44,000 feet of rail and 2,500 ties, and the line surfacing.

• Corsa Coal , $246,434, for rehabilitation of about 10 miles of track from its Coleman Junction to the Cambria Plant.

• Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad, $1.3 million, for the construction of a 3,900-foot siding and replacement of approximately 7,440 feet of rail and 1,550 ties.

• Dyer Quarry, $192,150, for a locomotive storage expansion project, including track re-alignment.

East Penn Railroad, $500,500, for the replacement of about 4,500 ties on the Wilmington Northern line and 2,000 ties on the Quakertown line.

• Gettysburg and Northern Railroad, $1.5 million, for replacement of approximately 2,600 ties and 3,315 feet of main line rail, and for improvements to three at-grade crossings.

• Lehigh Railway, LLC, $506,100, for replacement of approximately 4,900 ties.

• New Castle Industrial Railroad, Inc., $262,500, for construction of a 3,200-foot siding to accommodate increased interchange traffic with CSX and Norfolk Southern.

• Oil Creek Titusville Lines, Inc., $140,000, for a 1,000-foot siding extension.  

• P and S Railyard, $227,658, for transloading project work.

• Pennsylvania Northeastern Railroad, $483,000, for replacement of approximately 6,000 ties on its Stony Creek and Bethlehem branches.

• Procter & Gamble Paper Products Co., $246,886, for turnout replacement work.

• Redevelopment Authority of Luzerne County, $276,500, for replacement of about 1,500 ties and surfacing 5 miles of track.

Redevelopment Authority of the County of Berks, $991,250, for construction of about 1,200 feet of yard tracks at the Boyertown Transload Facility.

• RJ Corman Railroad, $3 million, for replacement of approximately 7,500 ties and 74,000 feet of rail on its Cherry Tree and Cresson subdivisions.

• SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority, $282,245, for rehabilitation of 1,550 feet of track on its West Park branch.  

• South Avis Realty, $391,461, for tie replacement and surfacing of industrial park tracks.

• Three Rivers Marine & Rail Terminals, LLC,  $176,146, for replacement of about 600 ties and two switches, and the surfacing of 800 feet of track.

• Union Railroad Co., $700,000, for replacement of about 500 bridge ties and 700 feet of rail, as the first phase of a low-grade bridge project; $1 million for Port Perry Bridge repairs, including replacement of floor beams and bridge stringers.

• Western New York and Pennsylvania Railroad, $4.7 million, for replacement of three thru-truss bridges and rehabilitation of two abutments on a thru-girder bridge.

•  York Railway Co., $2.1 million, for 1.2 miles of rail replacement and the rehabilitation of seven turnouts and 10 public grade crossings.

No Injuries in CSX Pa. Derailment

December 24, 2020

No injuries were reported when 14 cars of a CSX train derailed Tuesday afternoon in Hamiltonbad Township, Pennsylvania.

Six of the cars landed in about 40 feet of water in a retention pool at a factory.

The derailment occurred at about 12:25 p.m. CSX officials told local news outlets that seven of the cars were empty and none contained hazardous materials.

CSX officials said they were developing a recovery plan to remove the cars from the pond, and that the cause of the derailment is under investigation.

Derail Closes Pennsylvania Highway

November 27, 2020

The derailment of an R.J. Corman train in Pennsylvania this week collapsed a bridge that led to the closing of a state highway.

There were no injuries reported in the derailment.

The derailment occurred in Indiana County near Starford and resulted in the closing of Pennsylvania Route 1014.

The derailment left a hopper car dangling over a roadway where the bridge collapsed, Several other hopper cars were overturned.

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.

Resolution Supports Commuter Rail Expansion

August 29, 2020

A Pennsylvania township governing board has approved a resolution calling for rail commuter service between Reading, Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia.

The Board of Commissioners of Lower Pottsgrove adopted the resolution, which directs township manager Ed Wagner write a letter in support of the effort by Berks Alliance.

The community development organization is pushing for revival of the long-abandoned rail service, saying it could have an economic development value of more than $1 billion.

Lower Pottsgrove is located on the proposed route at about the halfway point.

SEPTA Warns of Service Cuts Without State Aid

August 20, 2020

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority is warning it will make substantial service cuts unless it receives additional financial assistance from the state.

The service cuts would include closing dozens of stations and converting trolley lines to bus service.

The Philadelphia regional commuter agency also said it will eliminate four regional rail lines.

SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richards offered that gloomy assessment during testimony to the Pennsylvania House Transportation Committee.

She said the financial issues are not just the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic but also financial problems that already existed .

SEPTA said it will cancel or delay $250 million in capital projects unless it gets more state aid.

Boxcar to Become Conrail Museum in Pennsylvania

July 22, 2020

Drawings show plans for how a boxcar will be transformed into a museum and archive by the Conrail Historical Society.

A former Conrail boxcar will be transformed into a museum operated by the Conrail Historical Society in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania.

The 86-foot auto-parts boxcar, Conrail No. 295644, was donated by CSX.

Built in 1970, the car will be repainted into Conrail markings and its 10,467-cubic-foot interior will become a museum and archive.

The bulk of the funding of the project will be a $100,000 grant from the Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau.

The remaining $34,000 will come from the society funds and in-kind donations of local contractors for material and labor.

The boxcar is now in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and will be moved by truck. The museum is projected to open in 2021.

RBN&N To Appeal Court Loss

July 11, 2020

A Pennsylvania short line railroad has vowed to appeal a court decision throwing out its lawsuit against the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority.

The Reading, Blue Mountain & Northern sued the authority over its handling of proposals from would-be operators for five rail lines that the authority owns in central Pennsylvania.

RBM&N submitted a proposal but was ranked last by the authority among the bidders.

The railroad then filed suit, contending that the evaluation process was designed to eliminate it from consideration.

Northumberland County Judge Charles Saylor rejected the RBM&N’s argument in 2018 and a three-judge Commonwealth Court upheld that decision earlier this week.

In his suit, RBM&N challenged the rail authority’s structure, organization and expansions.

“Reading and Northern continues to believe that it is improper and illegal for government-owned rail authorities to compete against privately-owned companies in handling rail freight business,” said RBM&N owner Andy Muller Jr., in a statement.

An attorney for the railroad said issues it want to bring up on appeal include the refusal of the trial court to allow the presentation of certain evidence that RBM&N said would favor it.

The attorney said the appeals court failed to address that issue in its ruling.

RBM&N will seek a review by the full Commonwealth Court bench of of the three-judge panel’s ruling.

Pa. Turnpike Might Seek to Cut Transit Payments

April 19, 2020

With traffic down sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pennsylvania Turnkpike is eyeing reducing capital projects and skipping paying money to the state’s public transit agencies.

By law the turnpike must make quarterly payment to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which then distributes those funds to transit agencies.

Turnpike CEO Mark Compton said last week that his agency is reviewing whether it will be able to make the next payment, which is due in July.

In recent years the turnpike has had to borrow money to make those quarterly payments, which has contributed to it building a debt of more than $13 billion.

The turnpike’s payments to support transit are scheduled to pay to $50 million a year in 2023. The current payments are $450 million a year.

Compton suggested that the turnpike might seek approval of the state legislature and Gov. Tom Wolf to reduce its transit payments before then in order to focus on maintaining its roads.

Wolf has projected that lost sales tax and other revenues will cause the state to run up a $5 billion deficit by the end of the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

The turnpike has a 10-year $5.9 billion capital improvement plan but it make pare that back in the wake of lost revenue due to reduce traffic.

Toll revenue has been steadily falling since March 1. The most recent figures show that during the week of March 29 1.5 million vehicles used the turnpike, a drop of 63 percent compared with the same week in 2019.

During the same period, toll revenue fell from $23.6 million for the week of March 1-7 to $11.9 million the week of March 29, a drop of decline of 50 percent compared to 2019.

Compton said capital projects that involve widening the roadway and other nonessential maintenance may be suspended.

He indicated that only only mission-critical projects necessary to maintain the 552-mile tollway, including facilities, technology and fleet, in current conditions will be undertaken.

The turnpike does not play to suspend work on converting toll plazas to automated facilities in which motorists pay using a prepaid E-ZPass transponder or are billed after the turnpike takes a photo of their license plate.