PennDOT applies for high-speed rail money

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation submitted its request for high-speed rail money to the Federal Railroad Administration on Friday.

President Obama included money for designated high-speed rail corridors throughout the country as part of the federal stimulus package, allocating $8 billion over two years and an additional $1 billion over five years.

PennDOT’s application was for the Keystone Corridor, which runs from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh through Harrisburg, as well as for two new passenger rail lines. The Northeast Corridor, which also runs through Pennsylvania, isn’t eligible for stimulus funding.

Though SEPTA won’t be running high-speed service as a commuter railroad, Main Line riders will benefit from some improvements made along the Keystone Corridor that PennDOT is proposing, according to Richard Burnfield, SEPTA’s CFO and treasurer.

The proposal is asking for federal money to replace signal systems and rail interlockings, some of which are more than 40 years old, along the R5 to Thorndale. PennDOT is also asking for money to install high-level platforms on some SEPTA stations that serve Amtrak trains.

The idea is to decrease the time that trains spend at stations and cut down on delays caused by SEPTA trains.

“We don’t want SEPTA clogging up the corridor,” Burnfield said.

Rail ties serving that part of the rail corridor were replaced several years ago through the Keystone Project — a joint effort between SEPTA, Amtrak and PennDOT — and will not be replaced.

PennDOT has asked for $489.8 million for the Keystone Corridor from Philadelphia to Harrisburg.

It also submitted a request for $2.3 billion for the construction of a proposed mag-lev line in Pittsburgh (you can hyperlink this for more info. ) and $401 million for a proposed rail line from Scranton to Hoboken, N.J.

PennDOT expects to hear back from the FRA in three or four months.

Posted by Anthony Campisi. Contact him at

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