• Wilkes-Barre to Scranton Passenger Route Study Results

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

Moderator: bwparker1

  by TheBaran
There has been an ongoing study to assess the best of 5 possible passenger train routes to connect Wilkes-Barre with Scranton (and onto New York City via the restored ex-DLW route). The following story appeared in the Citizens Voice (local paper). I reproduced it rather than paste the link as the Voice does not keep their web stories active for more than 1 day...

The story is By Tom Venesky, Citizens' Voice Staff Writer...©The Citizens Voice 2004

Passenger rail service between Wilkes-Barre and Scranton is a feasible idea, according to a consulting group hired to study the concept.

Officials from the Luzerne County Transportation Authority presented their final draft plan of the Wilkes-Barre Mass Transit Alternatives Analysis during a public hearing at the Luzerne County Courthouse on Thursday.

Since the fall of 2003, LCTA and SYSTRA Consulting, Inc., have been examining various routes to extend the larger Lackawanna Cutoff project into Wilkes-Barre.

On Thursday, the group recommended the route they felt would connect Wilkes-Barre and Scranton via passenger rail in the most cost-effective manner.

The recommended alignment, called the D&H line, is 18.2 miles long, 15 of which are owned by Canadian Pacific Rail and the other three operated by Luzerne County Rail Authority, and has 20 crossings. The terminal station would be located near the intersection of Market Street and Wilkes-Barre Boulevard.

"From each of the final four alternatives, we looked at infrastructure needs, crossings, impact to communities, potential ridership and operator costs," said Ruby Seigel of SYSTRA.

"The D&H stood out because of its cost and ridership."
The capital cost for the D&H alignment is $33.2 million, which is approximately $20 million less than the other three alternatives. Seigel said an estimated 200 one-way passengers traveling east would use the passenger rail line, and the travel time from Wilkes-Barre to Scranton is 31 minutes.

The next steps include coordinating with CP Rail, performing an environmental assessment for the extension, refine the ridership and cost figures and create a Tri-County Rail Authority between Lackawanna, Luzerne and Monroe counties.

Luzerne County Commissioner Todd Vonderheid, who attended the public hearing, said he supports the creation of the authority.
"The next step is to join with the partners in Lackawanna and Monroe counties and work as three counties getting together and being on one path collectively," he said. "We're about five years behind our partners in the other two counties and we're trying to play catch-up."

Tom Lawson of Borton-Lawson Engineering said the extension would also allow passengers to travel to New York City directly from Wilkes-Barre.
He said traveling to New York City via Interstate 80 is difficult due to traffic congestion, and the passenger rail service will provide a true alternative.

"Interstate 80 is being congested more and more everyday. You're looking at three hours by train to get to New York City, and maybe four hours by car," Lawson said. "This project would be up and running way before the 81 expansion."

Seigel said the final plan should be completed next month and federal funding will be sought for the environmental assessment.

"We want to look at the possibilities for recreation, occasional business and student travel with this service," she said. "This project is feasible and it does make sense."

  by Ken W2KB
There are still five routes? Do they all still have rail and/or are not severed? Amazing. Looking at the old maps of that area with all the lines that once were there is impressive, but sad.
  by 2nd trick op
Luzerne County, which has never been cited as a model for efficiency, has been operating local freight service under the banner of the Luzerne and Susquehanna since the collapse of the Pocono Northeast Railroad some years ago.

All the lines involve lie in paralell to some degree, and particularly in the area between Scranton and Pittston. The recent revival of the former Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley trackage between downtown Scranton and the growing corporate/entertainment complex at Montage Mountain may also weigh into the process.

D&H seldom has need to handle more than about twelve freight moves per day and the grade easily has room for a second track. So barring irrational NIMBY opposition, a route can likely be designated without any major sacrifices, or the heavy capital cost of new grading.

  by Andyt293
Some of the routes are a patchwork of fallen flags.

For example, the "West Side Route" Ex EL Bloomsburg Branch to Bridge 60 ( now owned by LCRA, Reading and Northern and CP Rail) is a pretty straightfoward idea but not feasible IMO from a passenger generation standpoint.

Another proposed route essentially follows the ex LV passenger main to Pittston Jct, then onto the Bloom. This was the route the Luzerne County Rail Authority liked the most from a monetary standpoint. Lots of federal dollars funneled through their agency to rehab the line between W-B and Pittston.

The most bizarre proposed route involved parts of the former Laurel Line, Erie Wyoming Divison, Lehigh Valley and D & H. This route was the longest in both actual miles and time to travel said miles. Only person who would benefit from this route would be Uncle Louie (those of you from the area know who I mean) as he and his brother still own a lot of the land adjacent to the ROW's involved.

Fortunately the company that did the study is from NJ and did not allow local special interests to affect its decision.