Posts Tagged ‘Pennsylvanian’

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.

Harrisburg Service to be Restored Today

March 5, 2019

Amtrak said it will restore service today between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Service in the Keystone Corridor was suspended on Monday due to problems with overhead catenary wires west of Elizabethtown following a winter storm.

Aside from Keystone Service trains between Harrisburg and New York, the corridor also hosts the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian.

The Pennsylvanian had been suspended on Sunday and Monday due to the winter storm.

Racing Through Cassandra

August 29, 2018

Amtrak’s eastbound Pennsylvanian is headed for New York City from Pittsburgh and will run nearly the length of Pennsylvania on its 444-mile journey.

The standard consist of one P42DC locomotive and six Amfleet cars, including a cafe car, is on display as the train passes through a cut at Cassandra, Pennsylvania, on the Pittsburgh Line of Norfolk Southern.

Soon the train will be rounding the famous Horseshoe Curve and arriving in Altoona, Pennsylvania.

Looking For a Future

May 14, 2018

I’m aboard the penultimate run of Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian from Chicago to Philadelphia. The date is Feb. 8, 2003.

I’m holding a ticket to travel from Cleveland to Pittsburgh where I’ll lay over for a few hours and catch the last Pennsylvanian to Chicago out of Pittsburgh.

Tomorrow, the Pennsylvanian will begin to revert back to a New York-Pittsburgh train with funding from the State of Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvanian was extended to Chicago during the era when Amtrak thought it could, to borrow the words of then-President George Warrington, ascend a glide path to profitability.

Then David Gunn became president of Amtrak and decided that wasn’t going to work and he took the passenger carrier out of the business of carrying mail and express.

One of the first casualties of that policy change was the Pennsylvanian. It had been extended to Chicago west of Pittsburgh to carry head-end business.

But with that now being taken away and the Pennsylvanian having mediocre ridership on the Pittsburgh-Chicago segment it became expendable.

On this day No. 42 arrived in Alliance, Ohio, well ahead of its scheduled arrival time. I had time to get off the train and walk around to make photographs.

My favorite was this one, made from the vestibule showing the conductor looking back on the platform for boarding passengers.

I can imagine he might also be searching for his future with Amtrak.

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.

Cruising Through the Pennsylvania Hills

October 25, 2017

Amtrak’s eastbound Pennsylvania is six minutes off the advertised as it rolls on Track No. 2 of the Pittsburgh Line of Norfolk Southern through Summerhill, Pennsylvania.

The train would lose time en route, arriving at New York Penn Station a half-hour late. The delays in this area of the route appeared to have been due to track work being performed by NS as it gets ready to cut in new signals and positive train control.

Behind lead P42DC No. 160 is an all Amfleet consist that includes coaches and a cafe car.

Pennsylvanian Given Minor Schedule Changes

September 13, 2017

Amtrak has revised the schedule for the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian.

Eastbound train No. 42 will have minor schedule changes of less than five minutes between Greensburg and Harrisburg.

Westbound Train 43 will operate one minute later between Huntingdon and Tyrone, seven minutes later between Altoona and Pittsburgh, 10 minutes later between Johnstown and Greensburg and arrive in Pittsburgh six minutes earlier.

The schedule will not change east of Harrisburg. The new timetable went into effect on Sept. 11.

Amtrak did not in a service advisory why the schedule has changed.

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.

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.

Westbound Pennsylvanian in Berea, Ohio

November 27, 2016

pennsylvania-at-berea

Amtrak’s westbound Pennsylvanian passes through Berea, Ohio, on May 29, 1999, in late afternoon.

The train is in its first years operating west of Pittsburgh. Amtrak rescheduled the train to operate between Chicago and Philadelphia on Nov. 7, 1998, and thought it could pay for the expansion with increased mail and express revenue.

Ultimately, Amtrak decided to get out of the head-end business and in February 2003, the Pennsylvanian reverted to New York-Pittsburgh operation.

For a while, though, Nos. 42/43 were the only daylight Amtrak trains in Cleveland, the Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited calling between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.