• All things Harrisburg (Keystone) Line

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

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  by Arborwayfan
 
"Revenue ... is sent out of the Commonwealth to other states." That assertions surprises me. The Keystone route turns a profit? Even the idea that tickets + state subsidy leaves Amtrak with a profit is a little hard for me to believe. Does anyone know? And, therefore, on the flip side, would it really be a bad thing for Amtrak not to have the Keystone route to try to maintain and serve? Would we federal taxpayers lose anything that way? Might we actually gain? (Notice I don't say "would Amtrak management and labor lose anything," because some of them would, assuming they weren't transferred over to Penna to run the line as part of the deal.)
  by gokeefe
 
I think what they're talking about is the fees that are paid to Amtrak for Keystone Corridor operations. That would represent state "revenues". I actually think the better approach is to fully federalize the corridor and treat it as part of the NEC. As I recall from PRIIA this did not occur hence the massive bill to Pennsylvania for the Keystone.

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  by njtmnrrbuff
 
The Keystone Corridor is almost like a spur of the NEC. Many of the trains to Harrisburg begin their trip in NYC and then follow the NEC as far as Philadelphia. The Keystone Corridor can be improved and in the end, it's really up to PennDot on what improvements can be made between Philadelphia and Harrisburg and westward to Pittsburgh.
  by gokeefe
 
It is absolutely a "spur" of the NEC however on a statutory basis it is excluded. Hence the requirement for state "revenues" to go "out of state" (Wilmington, DE and Washington DC).

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  by R36 Combine Coach
 
Same applies to the Springfield branch, even though it is technically part of the NEC (and once had inland
through service).
  by gokeefe
 
Yes, however there is no electric traction to pay for and I believe the Springfield Branch is in fact treated differently as it was included in the PRIIA as part of the NEC. Keystone was not. This means the cost allocations and formulas are applied differently.

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  by STrRedWolf
 
It sounds like they need to investigate where the money actually is going to. Third party audit of Amtrak's books, maybe?
  by mtuandrew
 
One also needs to wonder whether the Keystone Corridor would get better service and maintenance under Pennsylvania’s care than under Amtrak. I’m not seeing PennDOT maintaining it to 110 mph like Amtrak does, not without forcing Amtrak to shell out for the privilege.
  by R36 Combine Coach
 
electricron wrote: Fri Oct 16, 2020 1:10 pm If you agree with the Pennsylvania congressman, how would you feel if Amtrak sold the entire NEC
away to the various states for nothing?
Some argue if NJT took over the entire corridor between Trenton and NYP, commuters wouldn't be dealing
with Amtrak delays each day. Why didn't MD, DE and NJ buy their share of the NEC from Penn Central as
NY, CT and MA did?

But SEPTA or the Commonwealth makes sense to own/operate/manage the Keystone Corridor (PHL-HAR).
11 Metroliners (820-830) were actually purchased by SEPTA (funded by Commonwealth) for the stillborn high
speed Harrisburg service. If ConnDOT can run the Springfield Line as "CTRail", SEPTA could do the same with
the Keystone.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
The Keystone Corridor is about 100 miles while the Springfield Line is 60 something miles. It's way too long to be sitting in a Silverliner IV or V seat when traveling 100 miles. The same things goes with a Comet set.
  by NH2060
 
njtmnrrbuff wrote:The Keystone Corridor is about 100 miles while the Springfield Line is 60 something miles. It's way too long to be sitting in a Silverliner IV or V seat when traveling 100 miles. The same things goes with a Comet set.
They wouldn’t necessarily have to use SEPTA commuter equipment. PennDOT could always buy their own Siemens Venture trainsets (perhaps piggyback on VIA’s order since they’re ordering the equivalent of 32 1 cab + 4 coach consists) and buy several more electrics (either factory new or from the Amtrak pool).


Otherwise if SEPTA plans to offload the Comets upon arrival of the new CRRC multilevels (and any possible add-on orders with CRRC or BBD along with any more new EMUs) -or if ridership never recovers pre-COVID-19 those cars could simply be transferred to PennDOT and refitted with better seats. They would essentially be the Horizons with commuter car trucks and automatic doors.


As an aside, this proposal reminds me of a Railpace article from April(?) 1998 claiming that there were plans for a separate rail company (“Diamond Railway”) to take over the Keystone trains using a fleet of 40 rebuilt Arrow II cars. Sounds like someone was a big fan of the Reading Railroad even though the Keystone is an ex-PRR service :P
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
That could be a possibility of PennDot buying their own equipment to run on Keystones. I know that NCDOT has been using their own equipment on the Piedmont trains for years, even though the Piedmonts are operated by Amtrak. If PennDot were to buy their own trainsets, hopefully they would be able to operate onto NWK and NYP as well.
  by R36 Combine Coach
 
NH2060 wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 9:56 am They wouldn’t necessarily have to use SEPTA commuter equipment. PennDOT could
always buy their own Siemens Venture trainsets (perhaps piggyback on VIA’s order).

As an aside, this proposal reminds me of a Railpace article from April(?) 1998 claiming that
there were plans for a separate rail company (“Diamond Railway”) to take over the Keystone
trains using a fleet of 40 rebuilt Arrow II cars.
At that time SEPTA was actually considering to buy out the entire Arrow II fleet to replace the then
35 year old (as of 1998) Silverliner IIs. But they were in rather poor condition and only two were purchased,
as cab cars.
  by rcthompson04
 
I am not a fan of this proposal for several reasons:

1. One of the huge benefits of the service as is is going to NYP and back with one seat. I think only 3 trains are doing it daily each way right now due to COVID, but this was a huge improvement from the diesel days. Unless PennDOT could keep this same arrangement along with being able to change to another Amtrak train on the NEC if the Keystone is delayed this seems like making the service worse.

2. Does anyone in their right mind think SEPTA would do a better job at maintaining 110 mph track?

3. There are certain synergies gained from having Amtrak run this service. SEPTA has some equipment that could run it, but it would need to be modified with bathrooms and still wouldn’t be the same speeds.

I support going the other way... SEPTA contracts out the Regional Rail division to Amtrak and the state ponies up the money to make the necessary track repairs to bring the Keystone Corridor up to its potential (replacing the overhead wires, replacing the rail between Paoli and Thorndale, moving Bryn Mawr interlocking to Villanova, and most importantly, cleaning up the interlocking and track mess between Overbrook and Zoo). Clearing the maintenance backlog and hoping the ridership returns to pre-COVID numbers should be the goal.
  by Pensyfan19
 
Here's the official article regarding the bill from Smucker's website.

https://smucker.house.gov/media/press-r ... wealth-act
WASHINGTON, DC —Today, Rep. Lloyd Smucker (PA-11) is announcing the introduction of H.R. 8389, the Keystone Line for the Commonwealth Act. The legislation would require Amtrak to transfer ownership of the Keystone East Line and certain stations along that line to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for management by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

“As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I have consistently been disappointed by the National Railroad Passenger Corporation’s (Amtrak) responsiveness and management of our local rail line. I firmly believe that the closer a government entity is to those it serves, the more accountable it must be. That is certainly the case with Amtrak’s operation of the Keystone East Line. Renovation and repair projects are consistently delayed and over budget and revenue generated on the line is sent out of the Commonwealth to other states along the Northeast Corridor,” said Rep. Lloyd Smucker.

“Additionally, at a recent committee hearing, Amtrak’s president was unable to answer whether all stations on the line are ADA compliant. Not a promising sign. My legislation to reorganize the rail line under PennDOT’s management will fix these ever-present issues all the while improving service and giving riders the type of commuter service they’ve been seeking,” said Smucker.
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