• Wilkes-Barre eyes rail service to Philly

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in Pennsylvania
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in Pennsylvania

Moderator: bwparker1

  by GojiMet86
https://www.citizensvoice.com/news/wilk ... -1.2508691

Wilkes-Barre eyes rail service to Philly

Wilkes-Barre city officials believe it’s time to look into re-establishing intercity passenger rail service between Wilkes-Barre and Philadelphia.

City Director of Operations Butch Frati will serve as proxy for Mayor Tony George at a Wednesday meeting of the Lackawanna/Luzerne Metropolitan Planning Organization to request that the MPO seek funding for a feasibility study of such service.

Frati said the meeting is open to the public and public comment on the proposal would be welcome.

George was out of the office Monday afternoon, but city Administrator Rick Gazenski said Controller Darren Snyder has been researching the benefits of re-establishing the service and spearheaded the effort to lobby for a feasibility study.

Snyder said getting the study on the organization’s agenda is the first step toward seeking state and federal grants that could fund the study, and he thinks re-establishing the rail service could be more feasible now than ever before.

“Milennials are looking to be in downtown areas and don’t necessarily want to have to drive to work” or live in large, congested cities, Snyder said.

He pointed to a February 2019 report by the state Transportation Advisory Committee titled Intercity Passenger Rail Success Factors, which recommends that consideration be given to conducting an in-depth feasibility assessment of the Reading-Pottstown-Philadelphia corridor — and possibly others — for passenger rail service.

Snyder believes the combined populations of Luzerne, Lehigh and Carbon counties — close to 750,000 — represent “a huge number of people where you could have that critical mass that could make passenger rail service feasible.”

Snyder said the Reading Blue Mountain Northern Railroad already has over 300 miles of main line track extending south from Luzerne County through Carbon, Schuylkill and Berks counties. Branch lines extend into Columbia, Lackawanna, Northumberland and Wyoming counties.

And, he said, rail service is important to companies such as Amazon that are looking to relocate, and he noted that Reading Blue Mountain has increased freight service on its lines between Wilkes-Barre, Allentown and Reading in recent years.

Reading Blue Mountain broke all of its records for revenues, freight carload traffic and passenger excursion guests in 2018, ending the year with double-digit growth in both freight and passenger revenue, according to a company news release.

Noting that the Luzerne County Transportation Authority plans to relocate its headquarters from Kingston to Wilkes-Barre in the former Murray Complex, which lies between Pennsylvania Avenue and a double set of railroad tracks, Snyder said the site also would be ideal to accommodate a train station.

He believes the re-establishment of rail service from here to Philadelphia would spur economic development in the region and improve the quality of life. “It could change the whole dynamic of Northeast PA,” Snyder said.

Snyder and Frati both noted that re-establishing the service also would ease congestion on the region’s highways.

“How much more money is (the state Department of Transportation) going to invest in widening the interstates when it might make more sense to put the money into rail service? You have to crunch the numbers and see studies,” Snyder said. “You’ll never know until you look into it.”
  by toolmaker
I don't see the service as very practical for daily commuters in the Scranton or Wilkes-Barre area. Maybe a weekend service for college students but even they would rather be on campus than at home most weekends.
  by CarterB
Would think service from Scranton/ Wilkes Barre to NYC would be more useful.
  by WashingtonPark
I hope none of the residents at the meeting were hurt by the rush of politically connected consultants speeding into Wilkes Barre.
  by jrevans
WashingtonPark wrote: Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:28 am I hope none of the residents at the meeting were hurt by the rush of politically connected consultants speeding into Wilkes Barre.
That made me chuckle, because that's the true, sad state of almost every rail transit expansion project in this country.

We'd probably be better off to just pay the track-owning, host freight railroads money to make the service happen. At least it would have a chance of happening, as opposed to government agencies just hiring more and more consultants, then saying it wouldn't get built.

Before the track was yanked on the Reading's former Bethlehem Branch beyond Quakertown, I always thought that the best chance of getting minimal service, would have been to task the East Penn to restore service up to Shelly and then run shuttle trains down to Lansdale. (Yes, I know East Penn only has rights down to Telford.)
  by pumpers
Hmmm. NJ tried for the past 15 years or so to get the DLW cutoff back in service, and there was talk about PA starting Scranton NYC service, but all that happened was a few miles of track laid in NJ before NJ realized it was broke (and many zillion to consultants, I'm sure).

As mentioned, there is no obvious route. I supposed you could go on the old LV from WB to West Pittston, (10 miles ROUGHLY), the R&N (ex LV_) to Nequehoning (about 60 miles, All mileages VERY APPROXIMATE), then 2 choices: via Tamaqua on the R&N to Reading (60 miles), or via Allentown to Reading (R&N and NS, also 60 miles), and then to Philly (another 60 miles). So almost 200 miles. Realistically, that's a ~6(?) hour trip with stops, traffic, etc. That sounds like a lot - either I made a big mistake or the proposer has been smoking something...

But at least unlike NJ and the DLW cutofff, the track is there and in service. R&N probably would be happy to run the service north of Reading - probably it was them who got the idea started in the first place...
South of Reading, ???
  by pumpers
I just looked at the R&N web site for their excursions from Reading outer station (a few miles towards WB from Reading) to Jim Thorpe, a few miles past Nesquehoning, and see it takes 2-1/2 hours. http://www.rbmnrr-passenger.com/summer Times 3 according to my estimates for Philly to WB. Of course that's an excursion, but it gives you an idea how fast things might go on R&N.

Related, when is the bridge at Nesquehoning that they would need for this service (without having to reverse just north of Jim THorpe) coming on line? Still late this year? For a while I was seeing pics of progress in train magazines, but not lately.
  by pumpers
Thanks, I could see the text posts and thumbnail sized pictures, but no video...