Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak Keystone Service’

PennDot Might Sponsor Buses Before Amtrak Service Expands from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh

May 23, 2017

As the Pennsylvania Senate considers approving legislation designed to increase Amtrak service to Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is eyeing sponsoring bus service until Amtrak service can be expanded.

The state funds the Pittsburgh-New York Pennsylvanian and is considering funding additional Amtrak service between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The Senate Transportation Committee recent voted unanimously in favor of a nine-month review study into adding two more passenger trains between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg. The full Senate is expected to vote on the study proposal by the end of June.

The study would be conducted within nine months by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee.

The resolution also calls for looking at the prospect of adding service between Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

A number of steps would need to be taken before the service could become a reality, including making improvements to the Norfolk Southern tracks that the trains would use and negotiating agreements with Amtrak and NS. The route to be used is a busy NS freight line.

Western Pennsylvania interests have long noted that since 2000, the state has invested $400 million to increase passenger service between Harrisburg and Philadelphia from six trains to 14.

PennDOT spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick said the agency welcomes the review of what it would take to increase passenger service but that earlier studies have shown it would cost $3.75 million to $6 million to add one more passenger train, plus capital improvements estimated at $100 million in 2005.

Kirkpatrick said that in other regions of the country bus service has been paired with Amtrak service.

He said a dedicated bus could connect western Pennsylvania cities with Amtrak’s Keystone Service in Harrisburg to New York and Philadelphia.

Reservations Needed for Easter Travel

April 13, 2017

Reservations are being required for travel on Amtrak’s Keystone Service and Pennsylvanian during the Easter holiday travel period.

The requirement is in effect between April 13 and 17. In a service advisory, Amtrak said monthly and 10-ride tickets will be accepted during the period.

Amtrak expects an increase number of passengers traveling during the holiday period.

Winter Storm Leads Amtrak to Shorten Route of Capitol Limited, Cancel Boston LSL Section

March 13, 2017

A severe winter storm that has prompted Amtrak to cancel and reduce service along the Northeast Corridor will also affect some trains operating to the Atlantic Seaboard from outside the region.

The Capitol Limited will not operate on Tuesday (March 14) between Pittsburgh and Washington.

The Lake Shore Limited will not operate between Boston and Albany/Rensselaer, New York.

Amtrak said there will be no Acela Express service between New York and Boston, and there will be modified Acela Express service between New York and Washington.

Northeast Regional service will operate on a modified schedule between Boston and Washington with the routes of some trains shortened and other trains being canceled. This will affect some trains that operate beyond Washington to points in Virginia.

Also operating on modified schedules will be Empire Service, Downeaster Service and Keystone Service trains.

Station Rehabilitation Begins in Paoli

March 2, 2017

A rehabilitation project at the Paoli, Pennsylvania, Amtrak station got underway this week that will bring the station into compliance with ADA standards.

Amtrak 4The $36 million initiative is also expected to improve safety and provide operational flexibility at the station as well as provide the first step into transforming it into an intermodal facility.

Amtrak has contracted with Neshaminy Constructors to do the work, which includes a new center island, high level platform, new elevators and ramps, a pedestrian overpass, parking lot improvements, ADA improvements to the existing station building and upgrades in rail infrastructure.

Train operations will not change during the work and the number of available parking spaces will not change.

Creation of the Paoli Intermodal Transportation Center will begin once the Amtrak station work has been completed.

The current station was built in 1953 by the Pennsylvania Railroad. In fiscal year 2016 Amtrak handled 201,572 passengers in Paoli while SEPTA had 740,000.

Paoli is served by Amtrak’s New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian and the Keystone Service trains.

Timeline Set for Building New Middltown Station

February 1, 2017

Construction of a new $24.4 million Amtrak station in Middletown, Pennsylvania, is projected to begin in late 2018 according to a timeline released by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Amtrak 4PennDOT said that Keystone Connections, a consortium of six partners, has been formed to develop parking and businesses at the station site as well as to construct a pedestrian bridge over Route 230 to the Penn State Harrisburg campus and to extend Emaus Street to the station.

PennDOT said it expects to receive a detailed proposal from Keystone later this year.

The station is a joint project involving PennDot, Amtrak and Norfolk Southern.

The timeline said that site preparation is already underway and expected to be completed by May at a cost of $2.6 million.

NS will then begin track work later this year. That work is expected to cost $4.3 million. Amtrak will start its own track work in late 2018 when station construction gets underway. The Amtrak track work will cost $4.3 million.

Middletown is served by Amtrak’s Keystone Corridor and the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian.

Pennsylvania College Launches Pilot Program to Promote Travel on Amtrak by its Students

November 12, 2016

A Pennsylvania College has begun a pilot program to entice its students to travel on Amtrak.

PennsylvaniaElizabethtown College created a partnership with PaTripsbyTrain.com to market travel on the New York-Philadelphia Keystone Service trains and the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian.

The marketing is being done by Sacunas Integrated Communications.

Elizabethtown is first college to participate in the pilot program and Sacunas is watching it to determine if PaTripsbyTrain could be expanded to other colleges.

PaTripsbyTrain offers a ticket discount to students, called a companion fair, in which students purchase one round-trip ticket and receive a 40 percent discount on the second ticket.

“We tried to package it so it’s really beneficial to your money,” Senior Project Manager for Sacunas Jamie Judy said.

Officials said the program seeks to publicize that Amtrak trains are a travel option.

“When you’re in Central Pennsylvania the Amtrak isn’t first on your mind,” Judy said.

School officials also are hoping that the program will encourage students at the rural college to explore more urbanized areas.

“The emphasis is on taking adventures and exploring the world around us,” said Director of Community Relations and College Events at the College Caroline Lalvani.

“The program highlights many of the wonderful attractions we have in this area and gives students an opportunity to travel to more urban areas while enjoying their time at Elizabethtown College.”

PaTripsbyTrain highlights culinary experiences, sightseeing and tours, sports and festivals, family adventures and music and nightlife in cities served by Amtrak trains in Pennsylvania.

Pa. Amtrak Trains Will Require Reservations During Thanksgiving, Christmas Travel Periods

November 9, 2016

Amtrak passengers riding Keystone Service trains and the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday travel periods will need to make reservations before boarding their train.

Amtrak logoThe affected dates are Nov. 22-27 and Dec. 21-28. The requirement also applies to New York-Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, trains as well as Philadelphia-Harrisburg service.

Reservations will not be required for monthly and 10-ride ticket holders during both holiday travel periods.

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

Work Progressing on New Pa. Amtrak Stations

November 8, 2016

Plans for a new Amtrak station in Middletown, Pennsylvania, remain active, but officials are cautioning that it will be a while before construction begins.

penndotAmtrak recently broke ground for a new station in nearby Mount Joy.

Before work on building the Middletown station can begin Amtrak needs to relocate some tracks.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said that work is tentatively set to get underway in mid 2017 depending on the availability of Amtrak and Norfolk Southern track workers.

PennDOT spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick said his agency is working with Amtrak to relocate a signal box in conjunction with the planned Middletown station, which is slated to be built between the Westporte Centre shopping center and the Ann Street bridge.

Kirkpatrick said the signal box must be moved before the track relocation work can be done.

Proposals to build a pedestrian bridge across West Main Street and a possible parking garage are due in December with contracts likely to be awarded in late 2017 or early 2018.

The groundbreaking for the Mount Joy station occurred on Oct. 26. The $25 million station is expected to take two to three years to complete.

High-level platforms with canopies will replace the current low-level platforms. There will also be elevators, an enclosed stair tower and a pedestrian overpass between the east and westbound platforms. In addition, 42 parking spaces are being added and 112 existing spaces are being improved.

Mount Joy and Middletown are on Amtrak’s Keystone Corridor. Amtrak stations in Elizabethtown and Lancaster were renovated earlier with the Coatesville station expected to be improved.

Lancaster and Elizabethtown are also served by the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian.

Pa. Lawmaker Optimistic About Added Service

August 30, 2016

A Pennsylvania lawmaker is predicting that additional Amtrak service could begin in western Pennsylvania within a year.

Amtrak logoUsing a football anology, Bryan Barbin, a Johnstown Democrat, said that additional trains are not at the first and goal position yet, but are five yards or less away from the goal line.

Barbin serves on the House Transportation Committee and spoke with Pennsylvania news media after a meeting of that committee.

He said Norfolk Southern will soon tell the state how much it would cost to increase passenger service.

Currently, the route between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg is served only by the daily New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian. The region has been lobbying for years for increased service.

Although expanded service has support on both sides of the political aisle, lawmakers say that the price and technical details must still be negotiated.

“This won’t come to a matter of if, but how much it costs,” Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. John Taylor, R-Philadelphia, said.

Lawmakers might gulp if NS demands costly new switches and track improvements.

“You’ve got to take one step at a time,” Barbin said. “But what do you need to make the western corridor more like the eastern corridor? You’d have to make improvements on both sides of the Allegheny Mountain.”

He said federal grants could help cover the costs for track improvements.

“Any time you have a tight budget like we have, it’s never small potatoes. But it’s possible to do it,” Barbin said.

Expanded rail passenger service to Pittsburgh has the support of Pittsburgh city government, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and the Blair County Chamber of Commerce.

Barbin said some in western Pennsylvania have been contrasting the paltry level of rail service in their end of the state with the scale of commuter rail operations in eastern Pennsylvania, particularly the Keystone Service trains from Harrisburg to Philadelphia and New York.