Friday, March 22, 2013

Deal reached to rescue Amtrak Pennsylvanian

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said Thursday a deal had been reached with Amtrak to continue operation of the Pennsylvanian between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, the state capital. The Pennsylvanian also serves Philadelphia and New York.

Per rules mandated by Congress, Pennsylvania will pay $3.8 million a year to subsidize the train. Amtrak initially sought roughly $5.7 million per year."

"I applaud Amtrak for its willingness to work with my administration on a funding plan that makes sense for Pennsylvania in these difficult economic times and maintains this passenger rail service that provides important connections for many towns in Western Pennsylvania," Corbett said to state media.

Pennsylvania's share of funding, however, depends on the state legislature passing a transportation funding plan; legislative support for passenger rail in the Keystone State is measurable but hardly rock-solid, Northeast rail advocates caution.

But Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman was confident that state support would be forthcoming. This is an exciting day for the people of Pennsylvania, and I want to thank Gov. Corbett and (PennDOT) Secretary (Barry) Schoch for working with us to continue this important service," Boardman said.

Amtrak sought state support as part of a change in federal law that requires it to apply a uniform cost-sharing formula with state governments for routes of up to 750 miles. Other states, including New York, already have moved to maintain existing short-distance service falling under that formula.