Agreement reached to expand passenger rail access in Western Pennsylvania with twice daily service between Pittsburgh & Harrisburg

Four months after the two parties began jointly examining opportunities to eliminate chokepoints and improve Pennsylvania's rail system to better permit freight and passenger trains to operate together, Governor Tom Wolf announced today that PennDOT and Norfolk Southern Corporation have reached an agreement to expand passenger rail access in Western Pennsylvania. The parties anticipate a final definitive agreement to be developed by the end of 2022 – with construction beginning thereafter and new service anticipated to start within three year's of the definitive agreement's execution.

The Pennsylvanian Amtrak service currently travels roundtrip between New York City and Pittsburgh via Harrisburg once daily. When finalized and work is completed, the new agreement is anticipated to increase those Pennsylvanian passenger services to twice daily – with new eastbound service departing Pittsburgh at 7:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., and new westbound service departing Harrisburg at 9:41 a.m. and 4:40 p.m.

The Pennsylvanian is a key passenger rail route that travels Norfolk Southern's Pittsburgh line (which is part of the Premier Corridor, a main artery for double-stack intermodal traffic moving between Chicago and metropolitan New York). It's one of the busiest and fastest links on Norfolk Southern's network – with more than half of Norfolk Southern's time-sensitive parcel and less-than-truckload shipments using the route at some point every year.

To support the expansion of passenger operations, the commonwealth will invest more than $200 million in infrastructure and safety improvements that will be constructed and maintained by Norfolk Southern. Future improvements include upgraded rail lines, passenger platforms, sidings, and necessary communications signals infrastructure. PennDOT will redirect state Multimodal Transportation Fund dollars to fund the project, as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law's (BIL) funding is intended to replace train sets on the Amtrak passenger rail network (and PennDOT had previously been budgeting funds to meet requirements from a 2008 federal law for Pennsylvania's contribution toward train set costs). Additionally, PennDOT anticipates applying for additional BIL funds to support station and platform improvements along the route.