Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak in Pennsylvania’

New York Express in Lancaster

February 3, 2021

The New York Express is makings its station stop in Lancaster, Pennsylvania July 2, 1995. Although known as Train No. 644, today this train is simply known as Keystone Service.

Amtrak Pennsylvania Service Suspension Extended

April 21, 2020

The suspension of Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian and Keystone Service due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been extended to May 17.

The trains have been suspended since March 19 due to the pandemic.

The Amtrak website shows that reservations can be made starting May 18 although that it subject to change.

The Pennsylvanian operates between New York and Pittsburgh while Keystone Service operates between New York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, via Philadelphia.

The trains are funded largely by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

In a related development, operations of the combined CTrail/Amtrak Hartford line were further reduced on Monday due to a sharp decline in ridership.

The line how has seven weekday round trips in each direction, including four Amtrak Regional trains and three CTrail trains.

There had been 11 round trips, including five Amtrak Regional trains and six CT rail trains.

Keystone Service, Pennsylvanian to be Suspended

March 17, 2020

Amtrak said today that effective March 18 it will suspend all Keystone Service trains.

The New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian will be suspended effective March 19.

A service advisory said the decision was made in coordination with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

More Amtrak service suspensions are expected as a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. This will likely include corridor services in California and possibly elsewhere.

Also service cuts that have recently been announced include the Ethan Allen Express between New York and Rutland, Vermont.

Downeaster Service between Boston and Maine has seen the suspension of Trains 688 and 689 effective March 17.

Effective March 21 Downeaster Service will be covered by two train sets.

A news report also indicated that Amtrak will seek $1 billion in assistance to cover revenue lost from the pandemic.

The carrier said bookings are down by 50 percent and reservation cancellations are up by 300 percent.

Amtrak Keystone Corridor Schedules to Change

February 21, 2020

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the changes are due to construction at the station in Middletown, Pennsylvania.

Train 620 will operate five minutes later from Harrisburg to Elizabethtown, will now stop at Mt. Joy, and will operate six minutes later from Lancaster to Philadelphia.

Train 622 will now stop at Mt. Joy and will operate one minute later from Lancaster to Philadelphia.

Train 646 will operate one minute earlier from Harrisburg to Elizabethtown, will now stop at Mt. Joy, and will operate on the current schedule from Lancaster to Philadelphia.

Trains 652 and 654 will operate 10 minutes earlier from Harrisburg to Philadelphia.

Train 605 and 607 will operate 10 minutes later from Philadelphia to Harrisburg.

Train 607 will operate 10 minutes earlier from Philadelphia to Harrisburg.

Train 645 will operate 10 minutes later from Lancaster to Harrisburg.

Train 669 will operate 5 minutes later from Elizabethtown to Harrisburg on weekends.

Levin Wants Pennsylvania to Divorce Amtrak

December 22, 2019

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives Transportation Committee held a hearing last week that drew one witness and he suggested the state take over from Amtrak operation of the passenger service in the Keystone Corridor.

Bennett Levin, who oversees the short line Juniata Terminal in Philadelphia and is the owner of private railroad cars, suggested the Philadelphia commuter operator SEPTA operate Amtrak’s Keystone Service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

He contended that this would lower the state’s costs of providing the service, which is now 13 weekday Keystone Service trains and the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian.

Some Keystone Service trains operate between New York and Harrisburg.

Levin also contended that state operation would lead to increased train service between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.

The 103-mile Harrisburg-Philadelphia line is owned by the federal government and it would have to agree to transfer ownership of it to the state.

“SEPTA is one of the best managed commuter rail operators in the nation and there is no reason why their franchise cannot be modified to allow them to run west of Thorndale to Harrisburg,” Levin said. “Therefore the initial step in crafting a solution in the Pittsburgh region is to divorce Amtrak by having the U.S. Department of Transportation gift the Harrisburg Line to Pennsylvania and let SEPTA provide the existing Keystone Service.

SEPTA has 81 weekday trains on the Harrisburg Line that carry 20,000 passengers.

Amtrak’s  26 weekday Keystone trains carry 4,130 people, and the Pennsylvanian carries more than 560 passengers a day.

Levin said his plan would remove Amtrak as a middleman. “We have already paid for the Harrisburg Line; we should own it,” he said.

Levin noted that the state and SEPTA collectively pay Amtrak $1 million a week to operate intercity and commuter rail service on the Harrisburg line.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and SEPTA have paid more than $250 million for infrastructure improvements to the route including new or renovated stations at Paoli, Exton, Downingtown, Mount Joy, Elizabethtown, and Middletown.

Levin acknowledged that under his plan passengers traveling from within Pennsylvania to New York would have to change trains in Philadelphia at 30th Street Station.

“Those folks going to New York, let them walk downstairs,” he said in reference to the upper level and lower level platforms.

Levin was critical of the schedule of the westbound Pennsylvanian, which he said is oriented to passengers connecting to Amtrak’s westbound Capitol Limited to Chicago in Pittsburgh.

But fewer than 10 percent of Pennsylvanian passengers are connecting to Amtrak train No. 29.

With an earlier schedule westbound, the equipment used on the Pennsylvanian could be turned at Pittsburgh to create a new Pittsburgh-Johnstown commuter train.

PennDOT, Amtrak and Norfolk Southern have discussed expanding service between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh but thus far those talks have not produced any agreements.

Levin told Trains magazine that all of the parties seem to be talking past each others. “It’s my belief that Norfolk Southern is a perfectly rational partner, once you get Amtrak out of the picture,” Levin said.

2nd Train to Pittsburgh Hinges on NS Study

November 12, 2019

Norfolk Southern is conducting a study that it expects to complete in the second half of 2020 of capital improvements it wants to see before agreeing to host a second Amtrak train between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Amtrak currently operates the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian over the route and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation along with local officials have been pressing for several years for additional service.

Communities along the route want the option of being able to travel to Pittsburgh on day trips.

The Pennsylvanian is scheduled to depart Pittsburgh in early morning and arrive in the evening.

Jennie Granger, PennDOT’s deputy secretary for multimodal transportation said this week that her agency has asked Amtrak to consider adding a second train between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.

“What would it take?” she said PennDOT asked the national passenger carrier. “What would a second round-trip train a day look like? Give us a timetable. Ideally, how would this work with the Keystone trains on the eastern part of the state? How would we make it work with Penn Station, going into New York?”

In response Amtrak gave PennDOT a proposed timetable that it presented to Norfolk Southern.

Granger said NS responded that it would need to do a study that the state would need to fund. “The study itself is a lot like a traffic study,” Granger said. “It takes into account their freight movements, both historically and what they’re projecting going forward … and then, how does that interact with our proposed two trains a day?”

Granger told a luncheon meeting of the Cambria Regional Chamber of Commerce in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, that because NS owns the track, it can say who does or does not run on it.

“If they don’t want Amtrak on it, they don’t have to let them run another train a day. That’s all there is to it,” she said.

Once the NS study had been completed and presented to PennDOT, Granger said the agency will “have a better-educated idea of how to proceed with that service.”

The demands that NS is likely to make will be hefty.

During a August 28 Pennsylvania House Transportation Committee meeting in Altoona NS spokesman Rudy Husband said the Pittsburgh Line is already stretched to capacity with 40 to 60 trains a day.

He said adding more passenger rail service could require the construction of separate portions of track or of an entire separate track.

Husband argued that NS is not opposed to passenger rail, but that adding more service is complicated.

Pa. Thanksgiving Travel Will Require Reservations

November 1, 2019

Amtrak said in a service advisory that the change is being made to accommodate an increased number of travelers expected during the Thanksgiving holiday travel.

Reservations will not be required for monthly and 10-ride ticket holders.

On Thanksgiving Day, the Keystone Service trains will operate on a Saturday schedule.

Pa. Amtrak Funding May be Threatened

June 22, 2019

Funding of rail passenger service in Pennsylvania may be in jeopardy due to a law that will cut funding for the Pennsylvania Turnpike three years from now.

The law currently requires the Turnpike to set aside $450 million annually to convey to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for use by public transit.

But that law dictates that that funding drop to $50 million in 2022.

“Amtrak service is in jeopardy, as we know it today,” even without the pending funding crisis, Jennie Granger, PennDOT’s deputy secretary for multimodal transportation said during a speech to business and government officials at the Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Westmoreland Country Club in Penn Township.

Station Work Affects Keystone Skeds

June 28, 2018

Station construction at Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, will result in schedule changes for Amtrak’s Keystone Service on June 30.

Train 661 will operate five minutes earlier from Philadelphia to Lancaster, six minutes earlier from Lancaster to Middletown and five minutes earlier into Harrisburg.

Train 662 will operate 10 minutes later from Harrisburg to Philadelphia while Train 664 will operate five minutes later from Harrisburg to Philadelphia.

Amtrak to Renovate Latrobe Station

January 24, 2018

Amtrak will renovate the station in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, to improve accessibility for passengers with disabilities.

The passenger carrier will be designing the improvements this year with construction to begin in 2019.

Amtrak will replace the existing boarding platform with one that rises eight inches above the top of the rail.

Also planned are modifications to the parking lot, the stairs to the platform and the passenger waiting area. Signs will be installed that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Latrobe is a stop for the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian and served 4,246 passengers and generated $247,569 in fiscal year 2017.