Options for improving train travel between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg
Currently, passenger rail in western Pennsylvania is limited, to say the least. There is only one Amtrak train each direction per day, and it is a slow 250-mile journey, taking two hours longer than making the trip by car.
Mountainous terrain is the primary reason passenger trains on Keystone West currently operate at an average speed of only 45 mph. There are also numerous at-grade crossings and limited opportunities for passenger trains to pass slower freight trains.
What are the feasible options for improving passenger service on Keystone West? PennDOT examined that question as part of a study undertaken in 2011 in cooperation with the Federal Railroad Administration and Norfolk Southern (owner of the Keystone West rail line).
The Keystone West Feasibility Report and Preliminary Service Development Plan was approved by the Federal Railroad Administration in 2014. As it is a conceptual-level study, additional detailed technical investigation, analysis, and design would be required before undertaking any of the recommended actions.
KEYSTONE WEST HIGH SPEED RAIL STUDY DOCUMENTS
Executive Summary (700K): An overview of the Keystone West Feasibility Report & Service Development Plan.
Feasibility Report & Service Development Plan (11MB): The full report analyzing the needs, challenges, options, costs, and benefits of reducing travel time between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg. It includes an environmental overview, alignment alternatives, potential rail operations improvements, financial analysis, and next steps for carrying projects from a conceptual level through to completion.
Menu of Options (3.8MB): A summary of potential projects that could be undertaken individually or in combination, as funding allows, each providing independent utility and incremental improvement toward the long-term goal of reducing travel time on Keystone West.