ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — Governor Tom Wolf announced a new agreement that would expand rail services throughout Pennsylvania, impacting Amtrak stations across the commonwealth.
While the frequency of passenger trains has gone down in recent years, transportation by rail through Pennsylvania will be increasing from once a day to twice a day in the future.
“It’s a matter of convenience both for locals and for travelers to be able to come and go in the same day,” Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau Executive Director Matt Price said.
An agreement with PennDOT and Norfolk Southern Corporation anticipates increasing Amtrak passenger services throughout the state. This follows a February 2022 announcement that the parties would jointly examine opportunities to eliminate chokepoints and improve Pennsylvania’s rail system to better permit freight and passenger trains to operate together.
Blair County Chamber of Commerce CEO, Joe Hurd, said the additional train will make a difference for riders who use the service for work.
“People from here can work in Pittsburgh and people from Pittsburgh can work here as a result of having more accessibility to rail travel,” Hurd said.
Price said the new option could have cities with Amtrak stations like Huntingdon, Altoona and Johnstown seeing more visitors from urban areas.
“People that live in New York City and Manhattan don’t necessarily own a car,” Price said. “Same with center city Philadelphia and even Pittsburgh. They may not own a car. They rely on public transportation where they live.”
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More than $200,000,000 in infrastructure and safety improvements will be implemented from state Multimodal Transportation Funds in the coming years to expand the operations. The future improvements and construction will stem from a previously released Norfolk Southern operational feasibility study and includes upgraded rail lines, passenger platforms, sidings and necessary communications signals infrastructure.
“I think that alone will really be reflected in our economy and in the way that we do business here,” Hurd said.