7061 East Pleasant Valley Road, Independence, Ohio 44131 • (216) 241-2630 / Fax: (216) 241-6516

News and Issues
User Info

Amtrak will speed trips to Harrisburg

(The following article by Larry King and Angela Couloumbis was posted on the Philadelphia Inquirer website on September 12.)

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Amtrak service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg will be faster and more frequent by Halloween.

A conversion from diesel to electric service will enable trains to run at up to 110 m.p.h., shaving anywhere from 12 to 30 minutes off the 104-mile trek.

The faster service will allow Amtrak to offer more runs with its existing equipment. Three daily round-trip express trips, and one on Saturday and Sunday, will be added to the current weekly lineup of 67 round-trips, Gov. Rendell and Amtrak board chairman David M. Laney announced yesterday.

"At a time when all we hear about is mounting congestion on our highways and in our airports, it's a rare privilege to be able to stand here and tell commuters and travelers that we've just given you back part of your day," Laney said.

The enhancements, scheduled to begin Oct. 30, cap a $145 million upgrade of Amtrak's Keystone Corridor that began during the Ridge administration and was nudged along by Rendell. Starting in 1999, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has footed $14.5 million of the bill, with the rest coming from Amtrak and the Federal Transit Administration.

"It helps link Pennsylvania's cities ...," Rendell said, making it easier for tourists and business travelers to shuttle among Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Lancaster. Slightly more than one million riders took Amtrak's Keystone trains in fiscal 2004-05, up 14 percent from the prior year.

Rendell and Laney predicted that the service improvements, coupled with high fuel prices, would attract even more riders.

"Think about it," Rendell said. "Ninety minutes from Harrisburg to Philadelphia, a chance to do your work, read a book, do anything you want to do, but avoid the traffic, avoid the trucks, avoid all the fumes and have a great ride."

Amtrak diesel express trains currently top out at 90 m.p.h., and express runs take an hour and 45 minutes to just under two hours, Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black said. The electric express trains are expected to arrive in 90 minutes. Local trains, currently making the run in about two hours, will shave off about 12 minutes, Black said.

The Keystone Corridor has long been able to accommodate electric service, but Black said Amtrak has used diesels because of equipment shortages.

Because Amtrak runs only electric trains on its Northeast Corridor tracks, Keystone trains continuing to New York have had to switch from diesel to electric locomotives at 30th Street Station. That will end Oct. 30.

Despite the increase in Keystone ridership, one-way fares remain fairly cheap at $19. By comparison, on the Northeast Corridor, where demand is higher and seats more scarce, Amtrak charges $61 for the shorter, 91-mile trip from Philadelphia to New York.

"Prices are all market-driven," Black said, "and the market is stronger on the Northeast Corridor than anywhere else in Amtrak's system."

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Like us on Facebook at

Sign up for BLET News Flash Alerts

© 1997-2020 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen


Decertification Helpline
(216) 694-0240

National Negotiations

Sign up for BLET
News Flash Alerts


AAR reports rail traffic for May and the week ending May 30, 2020
Decline in U.S. rail volumes slows
Teamsters applaud unveiling of new House transportation legislation
Hoffa: Infrastructure investment holds key to economy
KCS attempts to get pandemic cuts to “stick”
FRA issues final environmental statement for Texas bullet train project
Golden Spike National Historic Site to begin running locomotives this weekend
May 29 update and press release from the Railroad Retirement Board Labor Member; RRB begins paying CARES Act recovery payments for unemployed rail workers
Q&A: RRB reports performance under customer service plan
Get the latest labor news from the Teamsters

More Headlines