Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro announced an expansion of Amtrak's New York City-Harrisburg-Pittsburgh service on Friday, doubling its frequency from once to twice daily. The expansion is a result of an agreement between the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE:NSC), and will be facilitated by a $200 million investment from the commonwealth.
The agreement aims to enhance passenger rail service in Western Pennsylvania while preserving a critical freight rail corridor. "This agreement lays the groundwork for expanded passenger rail service in Western Pennsylvania," said PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll. He further emphasized that the agreement would provide key mobility and economic benefits by reducing commute times, connecting hundreds of thousands of residents, and boosting local economies.
The commonwealth's investment will be directed towards "infrastructure and safety improvements" built and maintained by Norfolk Southern. These include upgraded rail lines, sidings, and necessary communications signals infrastructure. PennDOT has also applied for grant funds through the Federal Railroad Administration to help finance these improvements.
Supporters of the agreement believe it aligns with statewide aspirations for expanding passenger rail. Senator Wayne Langerholc, R-Clearfield and chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, praised the announcement, noting that it keeps Pennsylvania on course to achieving more rail service for western Pennsylvanians, a goal he prioritized upon election.
In addition to serving more Pennsylvanians with modern, reliable passenger rail, this expansion is expected to connect Pennsylvania communities and stimulate job creation, economic development, and infrastructure investment. The move is seen as a win-win for business and passengers alike.
In related developments across the state, the Schuylkill River Passenger Rail Authority in eastern Pennsylvania awaits news from the Federal Railroad Administration regarding a $500,000 grant to plan for a potential route between Philadelphia and Reading.
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