(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — Western Pennsylvania residents will soon have more access to railway travel thanks to a recent deal between the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and one of the nation’s largest railway transportation companies.
On Friday, Sept. 22, PennDOT and the Norfolk Southern Corporation finalized a deal to expand rail service on the Pennsylvanian Amtrak line. That travels round-trip between New York City and Pittsburgh via Harrisburg once every day.
The new agreement between the Commonwealth and Norfolk Southern supports increasing those services to twice per day with PA investing $200 million in infrastructure and safety improvements, which will be built and maintained by Norfolk Southern.
“Ensuring more Pennsylvanians have access to safe and reliable transportation to western PA will reduce commute times, help connect hundreds of thousands of residents and boost local economies. This expansion of service on the Pennsylvanian will provide key mobility and economic benefits,” PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll.
Mike McClellan, Norfolk Southern’s senior vice president and chief strategy officer, called the deal a “win-win” that increases rail options for citizens and improves Commonwealth infrastructure.
“Norfolk Southern is excited to build upon our partnership with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by increasing passenger rail options for the citizens of Pennsylvania while improving the resilience of our infrastructure for the shippers in the Commonwealth,” said McClellan.
Future improvements and construction for the railway will come from a feasibility study by Norfolk Southern, which PennDOT did request, and covers upgraded rail lines, sidings and necessary communications signals infrastructure and ensures that safety and the Commonwealth’s best interest are fully addressed.
With the most operating railroads out of any state with 65 and the fifth most track mileage with over 5,600 miles, the new expansion will help connect communities and bring jobs, economic development and infrastructure investment to more areas in western PA.