Posts Tagged ‘Keystone Corridor’

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.

Federal Grant Awarded to Improve Keystone Line

October 29, 2020

Amtrak and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation have received a $15.9 million federal State of Good Repair grant that will be used on the Keystone Line.

The project involves signal upgrades on the Amtrak-owned line that is used by the intercity passenger carrier’s Keystone Service and Pennsylvanian trains.

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority trains also use the line.

The work will occur between Paoli and Overbrook and allow for bidirectional train movement on all tracks and higher operating speeds.

The line is owned by Amtrak.

Bill Would Give PennDOT Rail Line Ownership

October 18, 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.

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.

Acela Trainset Makes Test Run on Keystone Corridor

May 29, 2020

New equipment built for Amtrak’s Acela service made a test run on the Keystone Corridor on Thursday.

The train operated from the Penn coach yard in Philadelphia to Thorndale, Pennsylvania, some 35 miles west of Philly.

Another Acela trainset is being tested in Colorado at the Transportation Technology Center where it recently hit a top speed of 165 miles per hour.

Amtrak wants to place the new Acela equipment into revenue service next year.

It has bought 28 Acela trainsets that are being built in Hornell, New York, by Alstom.

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.

New Middletown Station Seen As finished in July 2021

January 17, 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.

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.

Trackwork to Affect Some Keystones

November 27, 2019

Track work in Amtrak’s Keystone Corridor will result in schedule changes for some Keystone Service trains on Dec. 7, 8, 14 and 15.

Train 611, 615, 661, 663, 667, 669 and 671 will operate seven minutes later from Exton to Harrisburg.

Train 665 will operate five minutes earlier from Philadelphia to Paoli and two minutes later from Exton to Harrisburg.