Hearing Call Of ‘All Aboard’? Experts Discuss Feasibility Of Passenger Rail Service

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro...

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in the northeastern part of the of . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority President Lawrence Malski said Monday studies show major industries are looking to get out of congested metropolitan areas and move to areas like NEPA.

Passenger rail service that links Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton, he said, would be a major factor in attracting those companies to the area. U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, suggested the idea on Friday to spur economic activity.

“It’s (passenger rail service) is a major requirement that they have,” Malski said. “When you connect cities like Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton to a major city like New York, major industries will follow that rail line out here because they would have an efficient and reliable form of transportation for workers.”

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news//1152788/Hearing-call-of-All-aboard

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Santa Express Brings A Little Christmas Magic To Bellefonte

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region ...

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BELLEFONTE, PA — Dressed as Rudolph this weekend, Mike Hawbaker made his way through the train cars of the Santa Express.

During one of the 11 trips, Hawbaker approached a small child, who gave the costume-clad volunteer a small piece of paper. The child had hand drawn a little picture of the reindeer and wanted to give it to the red-nosed Christmas staple.

“That’s why we do this,” Hawbaker said, smiling as he looked at the drawing.

The annual event is a joint effort among the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority, the Nittany and Bald Eagle Railroad and the Bellefonte Historical Railroad Society, train owner Jeff Pontius said. He also organizes similar events in Williamsport, Bloomsburg and Sunbury.

Support For ‘Secret Valley’ Rail Line From Boyertown To Pottstown Picks Up Steam

Plans for a tourist excursion railroad on the eight-mile Colebrookdale line between Pottstown and Boyertown are moving forward and picking up support, most recently from a team of 40-or-so volunteers to got together to do a clean-up along the route.

Last weekend, the volunteers, led by the Pottstown Roller Derby Rockstars and folks in Montgomery County’s ARD program performing court-ordered community service, picked up trash along the right of way.

Berks County Subway provided lunch for all volunteers, and the Pottstown Health and Wellness Foundation provided water.

J.P. Mascaro & Sons provided two dumpsters.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130617/NEWS01/130619394/support-for-secret-valley-rail-line-from-boyertown-to-pottstown-picks-up-steam#full_story

Amtrak Reports Increase In Ridership On Keystone Line, Says Lancaster Is Third-Busiest Station In State

Ridership on Amtrak’s Keystone line through Lancaster County grew by 5.2 percent in the last six months, the nation’s passenger railroad corporation announced Tuesday.

Amtrak has 13 trains each weekday stopping at the Lancaster, Mount Joy and Elizabethtown stations on the Keystone line and nine weekend trains.  The Keystone line carries passengers between Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

The Keystone carried 723,461 passengers in the first half of the fiscal year, compared to 687,860 during the same period last year.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/836140_Amtrak-reports-increase-in-ridership-on-Keystone-line–says-Lancaster-is-third-busiest-station-in-state.html#ixzz2QAEZu4bn

Philly To NYC In 40 Minutes?

English: Map of Northeast, Keystone, and Empir...

English: Map of Northeast, Keystone, and Empire corridors, federally designated high-speed rail corridors. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Obama administration will weigh 15 alternatives for improved passenger rail service between Boston and Washington, ranging from modest upgrades to a new high-speed Northeast Corridor that would allow trips between Philadelphia and New York City in about 40 minutes.

The 15 “preliminary alternatives” were unveiled Tuesday by the Federal Railroad Administration.

The FRA plans to come up with a single “preferred alternative” by mid-2015, complete with cost estimates and possible construction schedules.

The goal is to lay out a feasible plan for investing in the nation’s busiest rail corridor through 2040, with proposals for updated equipment, more trains, new stations and possible new routes.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20130402_Various_visions_for_Northeast_Corridor.html#ixzz2PLaQhVws 
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Changing Skyline: Money For Costly Roadwork Would Be Better Spent On Transit

English: A shot from the Pyramid Club of the B...

English: A shot from the Pyramid Club of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge at night. First posted at: Brozzetti Gallery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back in 2010, Gov. Christie shocked transportation experts when he canceled construction of a new rail tunnel to Manhattan, one of the nation’s busiest routes.  The project would have doubled capacity, relieving the terrible rush-hour delays that force NJ Transit and Amtrak trains to queue up to snake through two century-old, single-track tunnels.  But Christie argued that the state couldn’t afford its part of the tab, $3 billion to $5 billion, for relieving the rail congestion.

Price wasn’t an issue earlier this month when South Jersey officials boisterously celebrated the start of another project aimed at reducing congestion.  This one will reconstruct the chaotic Camden County interchange where Interstates 295 and 76 converge with Route 42.  Fixing this one trouble spot – or, rather, making it more tolerable – will cost U.S. taxpayers just shy of $1 billion.

The different responses to these projects speak volumes about how our policymakers think about congestion. Highway traffic jams are still considered unacceptable.  But rail commuters routinely make do with antiquated systems that cause regular delays and breakdowns, like the one that left PATCO riders stranded on the Ben Franklin Bridge for 90 minutes during St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

What makes the I-295 project stand out is its staggering price tag.  Officials say it will take at least $900 million to untangle the South Jersey interchange – a sum equal to 75 percent of SEPTA’s entire annual operating budget.  Yet it doesn’t appear that New Jersey or federal officials ever stopped to ask, “Is this problem just too expensive to fix?”

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/home/20130329_Changing_Skyline__Money_for_costly_roadwork_would_be_better_spent_on_transit.html

Pennsylvania Transportation Performance Report 2013

Here’s basically what the report is about:

“On behalf of our “Board of Directors,” the Pennsylvania State Transportation Commission (STC), please
accept this first edition of the Transportation Performance Report.  It provides a snapshot of the transportation system’s current status, performance within current resources, and potential for progress as
we move forward.  The report showcases various data and trends.  It also includes actions taken thus far
in response to the Transportation Funding Advisory Commission Report, presented to Governor Corbett
in August 2011.”

The report is very interesting and will give you a good idea of what’s going on in our state.  This will take a minute or so to download as it is a large file, but the format is nice and it’s an easy read with graphs and pictures to help illustrate what is being said.

Click here:  ftp://ftp.dot.state.pa.us/public/Bureaus/Cpdm/STC/TPR%20FINAL%202-7-13.pdf

Amtrak’s Regulars Treasure The Pennsylvanian

English: An locomotive arriving at the Johnsto...

English: An locomotive arriving at the Johnstown train station in Johnstown, . The train is Amtrak’s #42 Pennsylvanian. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ABOARD THE AMTRAK PENNSYLVANIAN — The steady rumble of steel wheels on tracks is punctuated by the wail of a locomotive horn and then, oddly, by the pop of a champagne cork.

It’s 8:30 a.m., and Amanda McCoy and Kim Christen are living it up in the cafe car. On the table are boxes of a Polish pastry called paczki, orange juice and a bottle of Barefoot Bubbly.

It’s mimosa time.

Ms. McCoy, of Indiana Township, and Ms. Christen, of West View, also have bread, garlic bologna, lettuce, tomato and a travel Scrabble set for the long ride. “We’re veterans,” Ms. McCoy says. “We know how to do it.”

Like many others aboard the train, they swear by it, and recoil at the possibility that the one daily Amtrak train serving Pittsburgh and Harrisburg will be eliminated in October.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/state/amtraks-regulars-treasure-the-pennsylvanian-675749/#ixzz2LDMwXNd9

Amtrak Seeks Leisure Travelers

Philadelphia's 30th St. Station has SEPTA Regi...

Image via Wikipedia

A banner hanging in Lancaster‘s Amtrak station advertises a special promotion for travelers going to the current Philadelphia flower show.

The 15 percent reduction on tickets on Amtrak’s Keystone line is an effort to get more people to ride the rails rather than drive.

In the near future, there could be similar signs hanging in Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station or the Harrisburg train station advertising First Fridays in Lancaster.

Amtrak and the state Transportation Department — Amtrak’s partner in the Keystone line — hope to build more leisure travel on the 104-mile line between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Toby Fauver, deputy secretary for local and area transportation, said.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/601295_Amtrak-seeks-leisure-travelers.html#ixzz1ojKUHhx7

Amtrak, NJ Transit and SEPTA Trains Halted By Flood Waters From Irene

SEPTA logo

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Things have not returned to normal after Irene.  Amtrak service between Philadelphia and Boston was halted due to high water that flooded the Trenton Station and tracks, making train travel north of Trenton impossible.

SEPTA had seventeen cars stranded at Trenton when water from a nearby creek overflowed over the tracks.  The water is not expected to recede until Monday evening and then the damage will be assessed before a timeline to re-establish train service can be determined.  SEPTA still has four train lines without service: Trenton, Paoli/Thorndale, Norristown and Cynwyd.

NJ Transit trains are only operating on the Atlantic City Line.

Amtrak service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg is expected to resume about 3 p.m today.