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Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Continues to Deliver Through New Passenger Rail Funding

December 29, 2023 02:00 PM
By: Alexis Campbell

​Last month, Governor Josh Shapiro announced over $140 million in passenger rail investments through the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail (FSP-National) grant program and the Corridor Identification and Development (Corridor ID) program. These investments are part of an $8.2 billion federal investment to transform passenger rail in the United States, and is among the many ways the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) continues to deliver for Pennsylvania's transportation network.

"From my very first day in office, my Administration has worked aggressively to create real opportunity for the good people of Pennsylvania," said Governor Shapiro. "Thanks to President Biden's leadership and our federal representatives' support, we have a historic opportunity to build infrastructure that will connect our communities, spur economic development, and create opportunity for generations to come. I am proud of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for winning this competitive funding that will benefit people across the Commonwealth."

Pennsylvania will receive $143 million through the FSP-National program to support the expansion of passenger rail along the Keystone West corridor between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. Currently, the Pennsylvanian Amtrak service travels roundtrip between New York City and Pittsburgh via Harrisburg once daily. The agreement that Norfolk Southern and PennDOT entered into supports increasing those Pennsylvanian passenger services to twice a day. To support these expanded passenger operations, the Commonwealth will invest more than $200 million in infrastructure and safety improvements, which will now be partially offset by this federal investment.

"Enhancing passenger rail and restoring these connections will deliver new mobility options for Pennsylvanians," said PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll. "Expanding this service will reduce commute times, help connect hundreds of thousands of residents, and boost local economies." 

Additionally, FRA has identified three passenger rail corridors in Pennsylvania for study and development through the Corridor Identification and Development (Corridor ID) program, a comprehensive intercity passenger rail planning and development program that will help guide intercity passenger rail development throughout the country and create a pipeline of intercity passenger rail projects ready for implementation. The Corridor ID grant funds will support the Scranton to New York Penn Station (NYP) Passenger Rail Corridor project, the Keystone Corridor: Pittsburgh to Philadelphia project, and the Reading-Philadelphia-New York Corridor. Each corridor will receive up to $500,000. 

The Scranton to New York Penn Station (NYP) Passenger Rail Corridor project will restore intercity passenger rail service between Scranton, Pennsylvania and New York Penn Station (NYP), providing access to New York City, northwestern New Jersey, and Scranton for employment, business, leisure trips, tourism, recreation, and opportunities at higher education institutions along the route. The Corridor has been the subject of numerous studies, including the Amtrak Connects US Corridor Vision Plan, and long-range transportation plans that show growing demand for intercity passenger rail service along a corridor that has heavy auto traffic and unpredictable travel times for commuters. The Corridor will provide an intercity transportation option for historically under-served northeastern Appalachian Pennsylvania and northwestern New Jersey.

The Keystone Corridor: Pittsburgh to Philadelphia (Corridor) project will expand, modernize, and improve the two state-supported Amtrak services - the Pennsylvanian and the Keystone Service - to meet the demands of intercity passenger rail in the Corridor and improve co-mingled operations for intercity, commuter, and freight trains. PennDOT's overarching goals for the Corridor are to increase frequency of service, reduce trip times, and improve the passenger experience, leading to higher ridership. PennDOT and its partners have invested significantly in the Corridor over the past two decades, designing and implementing station and rail infrastructure improvements between Harrisburg and Philadelphia and identifying improvements between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg to allow for a second daily Pennsylvanian frequency.

The Reading-Philadelphia-New York Corridor would connect Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties with Philadelphia and New York City, as well as other communities along Amtrak's Northeast Corridor and beyond. The corridor would run on an existing rail alignment that has not had passenger trains running since 1983, wiht new intermediate stops in Pottstown, Phoenixville and potentially Norristown, with four to eight daily roundtrips connecting southeastern Pennsylvanians with Philadelphia and New York, NY, from Reading. This application was submitted by the Schuylkill River Passenger Rail Authority.

More information on passenger rail in Pennsylvania can be found on our website.

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