The results of a two-year analysis examining the potential for rail service between Scranton and New York were recently released by Amtrak and the Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority or PNRRA.
[Above photo by Marc Glucksman for Amtrak]
That study included operations planning to develop a sample schedule, ridership estimates, economic impacts, and an infrastructure assessment for the Pennsylvania segment, which includes cost estimates for upgrading track to accommodate passenger trains along 60 route miles owned by PNRRA between Scranton and the Delaware Water Gap.
“Passenger rail service in and out of Scranton was discontinued in 1970, only one year before Amtrak was created,” said Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner in a statement.
“Restoring and expanding this corridor with daily multi-frequency service would dramatically boost mobility and economic development for residents of Scranton and Northeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and the broader Northeast region,” he added.
The new service could potentially begin as early as 2028, pending completion of design work and construction by stakeholders including the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, NJ TRANSIT and PNRRA with support and funding from the federal government.
The proposed service would utilize upgraded existing tracks in Pennsylvania between Scranton and the Delaware Water Gap, 20 miles of restored tracks on the “Lackawanna Cutoff” between Delaware Water Gap and Andover, New Jersey, and existing tracks owned and operated by NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak between Andover and New York City.
This report estimates that track improvements on the PNRRA owned segment will cost between $100 million to $175 million, while acquisition of trains is estimated to cost approximately $70 million to $90 million, with those two items anticipated to represent 30 percent to 45 percent of the total project cost.
“This study reinforces what we have advocated for decades that rail passenger service to this region is a huge economic positive,” noted PNRRA President Larry Malski. “The study’s release is extremely timely with last year’s passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that for the first time makes available federal funding for developing Scranton service, especially restoring the Lackawanna Cutoff and upgrading PNRRA track.”
“Restoring rail service to Northeast Pennsylvania will help grow our economy and provide a new transportation corridor that’s been shut off for too long,” added Mike Carroll, acting PennDOT secretary.
“Pennsylvania invests significant resources in passenger rail throughout the Commonwealth and we look forward to expanding services into new corridors and bringing alternative transportation options to thousands of Pennsylvanians,” he emphasized. “I commend our team and the stakeholders involved for their work in preparing this project application.”
“NJ TRANSIT is pleased to continue working with Amtrak, PennDOT and our other partners as we continue to determine the infrastructure and other requirements that would be needed to allow for any future service expansion,” pointed out NJ TRANSIT President & CEO Kevin Corbett.