Posts Tagged ‘Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’

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.

Amtrak Station Opened in Mount Joy

October 8, 2019

A new $33.5 million station in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, opened on Monday on Amtrak’s Keystone Corridor.

A formal opening will be held on Oct. 21.

The station features two 500-foot-long high-level platforms connected by dual weather-enclosed elevator/stair towers and a covered walkway along South Market Street where it crosses over the double-track electrified main line.

The project also included making plans to the Pennsylvania Route 772 (Marietta Pike) bridge over the tracks.

The elevator/stair towers rise above street level and have large glass windows decorated with etched images of the English merchant ship Mountjoy, for which the town is named.

Platforms were given canopies, lighting, benches, emergency-alert kiosks, and direct access to and from street level on both sides.

Other site improvements included covered walkways for parking areas, landscaping, and slope stabilization, as well as improvements and expansion of the parking lot of 112 spaces.

Construction began in 2016 with funding from Amtrak, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Federal Transit Administration.

The Mount Joy station is one of several station upgrade projects that are part of a $400 million Keystone Corridor improvement plan.

Other stations being renovated are located in Elizabethtown  Exton, and Paoli, while upgraded facilities have been added at Coatesville, Downingtown, and Lancaster.

A new station is being constructed at  Middletown.

Mount Joy is located 24 miles east of Harrisburg and 12 miles west of Lancaster and is is served by eight eastbound trains and 11 westbound trains.

Baggage Car Now Operating on The Pennsylvanian

October 2, 2019

Amtrak has added a baggage car and checked luggage service to the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian.

The service, which began on Oct. 1, provides checked luggage service at Pittsburgh, Johnstown, Altoona, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Newark and New York.

The baggage car also has space to carry up to six bicycles, which can be checked for a $20 fee to any of the aforementioned stations.

Checking of bikes and luggage is only available at stations that still have a station agent.

An online reported indicated that the baggage car was added at the insistence of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which helps to fund the Pennsylvanian.

FRA Grants to Benefit Passenger Rail

August 27, 2019

The Federal Railroad Administration has announced the awarding of more than $272 million in grant funding to 10 rail projects through its State of Good Repair Program.

Several of those projects will benefit passenger rail.

The Michigan Department of Transportation was awarded up to $23.3 million for a rehabilitation work on the state-owned line between Kalamazoo and Dearborn that is used by Amtrak’s Wolverine Service and Blue Water trains.

The project entails rebuilding rail, crossties and track surfaces, and replacing two railroad bridges in Jackson.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation received $15.1 million to rehabilitate and upgrade an interlocking plant in Philadelphia at the junction of the Amtrak-owned Keystone Corridor and Northeast Corridor main lines.

Work will include slope stabilization and reconstruction of retaining walls, rehabilitation of an existing but underutilized track, and switch and signal reconfiguration.

Chicago commuter agency Metra will receive $17.8 million to construct a new grade-separated, double-tracked rail bridge over Milwaukee Avenue north of the Grayland Metra Station on Metra’s Milwaukee District-North Line in Chicago.

The city-owned New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal will receive $3.7 million to complete final design for upgrading station platforms and train service capabilities.

The platform modifications will bring the platforms into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, increase platform height to provide level boarding for Amtrak’s Sunset Limited and City of New Orleans, and improve the step height for boarding the Crescent.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation was awarded $41.2 million to replace and upgrade Tower I interlocking, a major rail network junction at the entrance to the Boston South Station terminal area.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation received $76.9 million for the Piedmont intercity fleet and infrastructure investments project.

The project involves the acquisition of 13 new passenger coaches for use in the Piedmont service and an expansion of the Charlotte Locomotive and Rail-car Maintenance Facility.

New Jersey Transit received $18.4 million for platform D improvements at Newark Penn Station. The project includes repairing and/or replacing Platform D slabs and joints, reconstructing platform edges, installing new tactile strips and timber rub rails, repairing the overhead canopy and upgrading lighting.
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation was awarded $12.5 million for a major rehabilitation of the Amtrak station in Providence.

The Washington State Department of Transportation was awarded $37.5 million to procure three new consists for use in the Amtrak Cascades service.

The project will replace the three Washington state-owned Talgo VI trainsets: two used in current service and one damaged in the December 2017 derailment.

The loss of the damaged trainset reduced the Amtrak Cascades schedule from six to four daily round trips.

The project will enable WSDOT to meet existing and anticipated passenger demand, and allow Washington to retire its Talgo VI trainsets.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation was awarded $25.7 million to replace deteriorated, outdated passenger cab-baggage and coach cars used in the Chicago–Milwaukee Amtrak Hiawatha service with three single-level cab-coach cars and six single-level coach cars.

Hearing to Consider Expanded Amtrak Service in Pa.

August 20, 2019

A hearing has been set for Aug. 28 by a Pennsylvania legislature transportation subcommittee to consider the prospects of increasing intercity rail passenger service between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The hearing will be held at the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum at 3 p.m. start.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is funding a study of the costs of expanding the service on Norfolk Southern tracks between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.

The state currently funds the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian on the route. It also funds Amtrak Keystone service between Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

Expected to testify at the hearing are NS representatives and members of Western Pennsylvanians for Passenger Rail.

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.

PennDOT to Study Pittsburgh-Altoona Train

September 24, 2018

A feasibility study will be conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation of a Pittsburgh-Altoona passenger train.

PennDOT will review several studies on the Keystone West Corridor; and gather information about the existing right of way, current and projected freight-rail activity on the line.

The study will also develop cost estimates of the proposed service as well as three potential service plans, a travel-demand marketing assessment and ridership estimates.

The service would supplement the existing Amtrak Pennsylvanian, which operates between Pittsburgh and New York and is funded by PennDOT.

The route between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg is owned by Norfolk Southern.

Pennsylvania has commissioned previous studies of additional Amtrak service between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh but thus far nothing has materialized.

Harrisburg Station Renovation in the Works

March 16, 2018

Plans are in the works to renovate the Harrisburg (Pennsylvania) Transportation Center, but no timeline for the project has been set.

Officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said work inside the station can begin soon, but other work will not proceed until a flooding alleviation project is completed.

PennDOT said it is creating a master plan for the station, which is the western terminus of Amtrak’s Keystone Service from New York and Philadelphia and an intermediate stop for the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian.

Officials said 90 percent of the design of the $15 million station renovation is complete and PennDOT is working with Amtrak on a construction schedule.

A public hearing has been set for March 22 at 4 p.m. at the station to discuss the proposed project.

PennDOT and the Harrisburg Redevelopment Authority want to transform the transportation center and adjacent area into a new transit-oriented, mixed-use development that they say could help revitalize the city.

The plans call for improvements to Market and Cameron streets and a direct connection between the station and parking areas east of it.

However, flooding issues involving Paxton Creek need to be addressed first, including how to fund them.

By one estimate, the flood control work will cost between $60 million to $90 million with the source of that funding yet to be decided.

Some suggested sources have included the state’s Multimodal Fund and the departments of Community and Economic Development and Conservation and Natural Resources.

Once funding is secured the flood control project will require at least four or five years to complete.

Among the plans for the Harrisburg station  development project are an open-space cafe in the main lobby, new seating in the concourse area, removal of trees on Aberdeen Street to open sightlines and increase safety, a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating at the station, and a new entry plaza from the lower-level Market Street entrance.

Also being planned are new office space in the upper floors and removal of offices in the lobby, a pedestrian bridge over the tracks to the station, streetscaping and improvements, and relocating the intercity bus facility.

New Middletown Depot Construction Delayed

January 16, 2018

A new Amtrak station for Middletown, Pennsylvania, is not expected to open until sometime in 2021 or 2022.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said it will take a couple years before construction can begin to build a new platform and station.

PennDOT attributed the delay to track work yet to be performed by Norfolk Southern.

NS must relocate about a mile of its track at a cost of about $6.5 million to make room for relocating two tracks that will be used by Amtrak.

“Given the uncertainty of the railroads’ track schedules, a firm completion date was never set,” said PennDOT spokesman Richard Kirkpatrick said. “Track work construction schedules are contingent upon the availability of the Amtrak and Norfolk Southern workforces.”

The new station is expected to cost $24.4 million and replace the existing depot on Mill Street. That facility is not accessible to handicapped individuals. The new facility will be built along Route 230 at the end of Ann Street.

Kirkpatrick said the station design is being reviewed by Amtrak.

A public-private partnership known as Keystone Connections has submitted a preliminary proposal to build the station and related developments.

Keystone has not yet released many details on the project other than it expects to construct a 400-space parking area and that there will be room for retail shops and possibly a hotel.

The station project also includes a pedestrian bridge to be built over Route 230 that will link the Penn State Harrisburg campus to the station and downtown Middletown.

Planning for the station project began in 2009. Middletown is served by Amtrak’s Keystone Service trains between New York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Budget Plans Saves Pennsylvanian Funding

October 30, 2017

A budget plan agreed to by Pennsylvanian lawmakers will keep intact funding for Amtrak’s Pittsburgh-New York Pennsylvanian.

That funding had been in danger after some lawmakers proposed transferring money from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation budget to cover a $2 billion budget deficit.

The budget plan still must be approved by Gov. Tom Wolf. It seeks additional revenue by expanding casinos in the state.

The proposal would allow for $200 million in the current fiscal year and more funding later by allowing the development of 10 new “mini-casinos” around the state.

The Pennsylvanian is funded through the Multimodal Transportation and Public Transportation Trust Funds. If that funding had been removed, the Pennsylvanian would have been at risk of being discontinued.