CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Plans for a second passenger train in Johnstown were announced this week with hopes to raise passenger numbers to a level not seen in decades.
A second daily round-trip passenger train will be coming to Johnstown, which will require rail lines in Johnstown and Portage to be upgraded to make it possible for freight and passenger trains to switch tracks, according to the Johnstown Area Heritage Association.
“This is great news for Johnstown, and for JAHA, which has been deeply invested in the preservation of the Johnstown train station since the 1990s when we restored the concourse of the station in cooperation with the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority in order to retain an Amtrak ticket station in Johnstown,” the JAHA added. “In December 2010, the building was donated to JAHA by Carole Furst Gigliotti and Harvey and Katherine Supowitz with the intention that it would become a visitors center for Johnstown.”
It’s reported PennDOT and JAHA invested $910,000 while Amtrak invested $2 million to restore the station roof and install ADA compliance upgrades between 2016 and 2018. In 2017, the JAHA said PennDOT funded a team of architects, engineers and economists to study what further upgrades are needed for full passenger functionality as well as transit-oriented development in and around the station.
In November of 2021, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced Johnstown secured a federal grant worth $24.4 million to fund improvement projects. The Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability & Equity (RAISE) grant went toward upgrading the Johnstown train station, restoring the inclined plane transit system to full function, improving the CamTran Downtown Intermodal Transportation Center and connecting the transit center to “economic hubs” via Main Street Greenway in addition to other projects.
The JAHA said with the recently announced rail line upgrades and the rehabilitation of the train station, rail passenger numbers are expected to rise to a level not seen in decades.
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The train station will serve as a hub for transportation, heritage tourism and food. The JAHA reported that the former baggage and express section of the building will house a year-round farmer’s market and food service. The former waiting room and ticket office is currently being used as headquarters by the Artist-Blacksmith Association of North America (ABANA), which will develop a museum and gallery. Furthermore, it’s reported the concourse will house a visitor center, pop-up vendors and contact points for ground transportation providers, and the second-story offices will tentatively be developed for B&B rentals.