Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has directed the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to again study the feasibility of passenger rail between Altoona and Pittsburgh.
Gov. Wolf said the decision to study the service acknowledges the “continued interest in adding passenger rail service in western Pennsylvania.”
“I know the appetite for such service remains strong in western Pennsylvania, and I have asked PennDOT to check once again about whether such a step is possible,” Gov. Wolf said. “I want to exhaust every angle possible to serve the needs of this region.”
The new effort will include a review of several past studies on the Keystone West Corridor and will gather information about the condition of the right of way, current and projected rail freight activity on the line, track and platform alignments and historic ridership data. An estimate of costs of needed improvements also will be developed.
The study also will produce three potential service plans and include a travel demand marketing assessment and ridership estimates.
The work will include outreach to Norfolk Southern Railroad, which owns the corridor between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, and Amtrak, which currently operates the cross-state Pennsylvanian, a once daily train in each direction between New York, Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, as well as hourly service east of Harrisburg.
“This study will help answer some important unresolved questions about a way forward with this added service for western Pennsylvania,” Gov. Wolf added. “Offering transportation options aligns with my promise to all Pennsylvanians that my administration would deliver a government that works for a better quality of life.”