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T O P I C     R E V I E W
Member # 683
 - posted
Need some information from all you rail experts.

A fellow told me today that AMTRAK (and not CSX) actually owns and maintains the track between Harrisburg and Philadelphia EAST.

I was shocked , to say the least. Is this true ?

I always thought that the ONLY track Amtrak owns and maintains is over the NEC.

I was discussing with him the imbalance in Amtrak service (through Pennsylvania) east as compared to west of Harrisburg. Through the Keystone Service, about 30 trains a day travel between Harrisburgh and Philadelphia (and on to NYC) as compared to the 2 that traverse west , between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.

The fellow said he "investigated" the matter and learned that the reason was because CSX owned the track between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh , but Amtrak owned the track between Harrisburg and Philadelphia. This was news to me !!

Does anyone know the REAL answer ? Who actually owns and maintains the track between Harrisburg and Philadelphia over the Keystone Corridor ?
Member # 1418
 - posted
Mr. Talk -- I believe that is correct that AMTRAK owns the tracks between PHL and Harrisburg. However, that may not be the reason why there is such limited service west of Harrisburg. I know many others around here would also like to know that.

In addition to the NEC and the PHL-HAR segment, AMTRAK also owns the tracks between Michigan City, Indiana, and Kalamazoo, Mich., which are used by the Chicago to Michigan trains.
Gilbert B Norman
Member # 1541
 - posted
The ROW PHL-HBG is owned and maintained by Amtrak, West of HBG (I defer to someone else to identify the actual "CP" at which Amtrak ownership ends. Westward, the track is owned by Norfolk southern, vice CSX.

It appears that so much of the Pennsylvania political landscape can be describes as "East Penn" and "West Penn" with the Susquehanna being the boundary. If local funding could not be found in a state that has a relatively active rail passenger initiative to continue the Three Rivers Hbg-Pgh (it survives as a Keystone Phl-Hbg) in a 2004 election year, then something tells me there are two states - "East Penn" and "West Penn". Where is "West Penn" Bud Shuster, a strong advocate of anything that rolls, where is 'West Penn' Sen Santorum (no particular friend of passenger rail, but still powerful and part of the "caucus')? What is happening to the population of "West Penn's' largest city? let alone others such as Altoona and Johnstown that once had strong industrial bases. An urban skyline surrounded by idyllic scenery may attract tourists, but tourists only represent "jobs of sorts".

Yes I like Pittsburgh (I lived there - Sewickley - during "The War" stayed there last Oct; did a "drive through" during June - including "almost encounter" with Bambi @ about MP 15 on the Turnpike) and I recognize its world class intellectual and cultural resources. But it is the East end of the rust belt and Local (as distinct from Federal) "powers that be" do not believe it warrants further rail passenger service.
Member # 683
 - posted
Guys, thanks so much for you prompy replies.

To be honest, I am stunned. For years and years now, I never knew that Amtrak owned and maintained the stretch of track between Harrisburg and Philly. No wonder there is such a high density of Amtrak service on that corridor.

I also did not know that Amtrak owns and maintains the track that the Michigan trains travel on.

So give me a figure, someone. Approximately just how many miles of track (including the NEC, of course) does Amtrak actually own and maintain ? I know now that it is more than 600.

Gilbert, I have contacted numerous Western PA legislators concerning the obvious imbalance of Amtrak service west , as compared to east , of Harrisburg. Not one has ever replied back to me.

I know Amtrak tried some time ago to add a new train west of Harrisburg, but CSX said , "NO way !" Well, it seems to me Amtrak has some "leverage" owning the Keystone Corridor. Why not bring thisd matter up in negotiations with CSX related to THEIR traffic over the corridor----it works both ways. You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.
Member # 4205
 - posted
I could amplify (somewhat tongue in cheek) what GBN has written by virtue of my long residence in SEPTAland.

This region's media's external field of interest is of the Northeast Corridor almost exclusively, plus the obvious political need to communicate with the state's capital. Granted, there is plenty of rail ridership to back up that provincial attitude.

The media here pays little attention to what happens west of the Susquehanna. The same seems to be true with the railfans. To their views, that river might just as well be Ohio's eastern boundary.

This few-care-enough situation may explain why Amtrak's only daily and direct service between New York City and Chicago goes via CSX and the Mohawk Valley but not via NS and southern Pennsylvania with twice the intermediate population.
Member # 1473
 - posted
I also did not know that Amtrak owns and maintains the track that the Michigan trains travel on
Only about 100 miles of it is owned by Amtrak, between Kalamazoo MI and Porter IN. That's the segment that Amtrak is currently trying to upgrade to 110-mph operation.

As far as the NEC (BOS-WAS) goes, Amtrak owns 80 percent of it. Everything within MA is owned by that Commonwealth; from New Haven to the NY/CT border, Connecticut DOT owns it; Metro-North owns the NEC from the NY/CT border to CP "Shell". The "Inland Route" is under Amtrak ownership between New Haven CT and Springfield MA, the former service now reduced to a single-car shuttle between New Haven and Springfield, for the most part.

(Hmm, so if NJ Transit's "dual-power" catenary/diesel-genset locomotive experiment works out, would Amtrak then be able to test the units out for "Inland Northeast Direct" sans engine change? or to be on topic, extend the Keystone Service trains to Pittsburgh? Pardon my cynicism, but this is a world where the Trenton Cutoff is de-wired and chopped into segments instead of used to its full passenger potential.)

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