Pa. to kick in $3.8 million to save Amtrak’s Pittsburgh-Harrisburg route

Pennsylvania has agreed to chip in $3.8 million to support the “Pennsylvanian.”

The Amtrak route runs 444 scenic miles from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and then on to New York City. In 2008, Congress said states would have to starting paying part of the costs of shorter Amtrak routes.

Originally, Amtrak asked for about $6.5 million. With this agreement, the state will cover enough of the costs to keep the route operational.

“We’re very pleased to be able to continue that service to those communities,” said Amtrak spokesman Craig Schulz, the day after a deal was reached with the state.

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“The Pennsylvanian is the only passenger rail service that services the western part of Pennsylvania between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh and there’s a rich history in that area of passenger rail.”

The Pennsylvanian runs once a day. The entire span from Pittsburgh to New York served more than 200,000 riders in the last fiscal year. Like many of Amtrak’s longer routes, it operated at a loss — about $7.4 million.

State Department of Trensportation spokesman Steve Chismar echoed Amtrak officials’ sentiment, saying that the state’s transportation authority was “delighted” the trains will keep running. 

“This was a line we fought very hard to keep open,” he said. “Although it is used as a commuter line … it’s just a very scenic line and it’s a crucial part of the overall transportation network for residents who live along the corridor.”

He added that money for the route would come from Gov. Tom Corbett’s transportation funding plan, a part of his proposed budget which still has to make it through the state Legislature.

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