RAIL

The HATS region is served by several railroads that provide both passenger and freight services.


Amtrak

 Keystone Corridor Map (Amtrak)

Keystone Corridor Map (Amtrak)

Connecting Harrisburg and Philadelphia, the Keystone Corridor is the primary passenger railway serving the Harrisburg area. Amtrak, SEPTA and PennDOT continue to make high-speed rail improvements to the Keystone Corridor, a 104-mile long corridor that connects Harrisburg and Philadelphia. Improvements are currently in construction and include closure of three public highway-rail grade crossings, preliminary engineering of interlocking/signal system reconfigurations, and the rebuilding of state interlocking in Harrisburg. In addition to the improvements to this infrastructure, Amtrak, SEPTA and PennDOT continue to work together to make improvements to the stations along the Keystone Corridor. The most notable station improvements in the Harrisburg area are the construction of a new Middletown Station and the modernization of the Harrisburg Transportation Center.

The new Middletown Station is set to be located near Ann and W. Main streets. The facility will provide ADA accessibility to the site, which is currently lacking at the existing station. It will also improve multimodal connections with a pedestrian overpass, on-site parking and bus loading zones.

In 2010, Amtrak completed a 20-year Northeast Corridor Infrastructure Plan which includes the Harrisburg station. It looks at ridership and analyzes where to expand and build new infrastructure to improve or enhance regional and corridor-wide rail service in both passenger and freight realms. Looking toward their horizon year of 2030, Amtrak’s goals for the Northeast Corridor include supporting economic growth; supporting states in their vision of broad regional connectivity throughout the Northeast and beyond; and maintaining, improving and expanding rail infrastructure and capacity as well as inter- and multimodal connections. Amtrak anticipates more riders, which means more trains and constantly striving to provide better service.


Norfolk Southern

Harrisburg is just one of three primary intermodal hubs in the NS system east of the Mississippi. The region is situated at the northern extent of the railroad’s Crescent Corridor initiative, which is its highest expansion priority.

The Crescent Corridor traverses the HATS region and facilitates movement of domestic intermodal traffic. NS is currently investing millions of dollars on this section of the Crescent Corridor to parallel I-81 with double track, double stack service. The Harrisburg region sees an average of 60-70 freight trains daily.

Some of the strategies and actions regarding rail freight defined in the HATS Regional Freight Plan include:

  • Improve at-grade rail crossing safety;
  • Improve overall rail freight safety;
  • Support Operation Lifesaver and its public awareness campaigns;
  • Coordinate with PennDOT and railroads to address the region’s many railroad bridges and underpasses that feature overhead height restrictions;
  • Investigate the needs for improving short line rail service.

The Pennsylvania State Rail Plan identifies proposed passenger and rail freight projects from 2015 through 2040. The passenger project listing includes approximately $1.7 billion on Amtrak passenger projects which include approximately $521 million on the Keystone Corridor and $90.2 million in Dauphin County alone. Specific projects include:

  • State Interlocking Renewal (Harrisburg);
  • New Middletown Station;
  • Installation of Royalton Sub 71 Transformer and Harrisburg Sub 72 Transformer;
  • Harrisburg ADA Improvements.
 Mahantango Creek railroad bridge and crossing, northern Dauphin County

Mahantango Creek railroad bridge and crossing, northern Dauphin County

Proposed freight rail projects from the plan include project investment on Class I and short lines. Projects in both Cumberland and Dauphin Counties made the list.

Overall goals of the Pennsylvania State Rail Plan include bringing the priority rail system to a state of good repair and maintenance; developing an integrated rail system; supporting the future needs of residents and businesses; enhancing the quality of life in Pennsylvania; assuring personal safety and infrastructure security; supporting energy efficiency and environmental sustainability; identifying stable and predictable funding; and building public support for rail system services and assets.


Key Recommendations

The key strategies and actions regarding rail freight defined in the HATS Regional Freight Plan include:

  • Improve at-grade rail crossing safety;
  • Improve overall rail freight safety;
  • Support Operation Lifesaver and its public awareness campaigns;
  • Coordinate with PennDOT and railroads to address the region’s many railroad bridges and underpasses that feature overhead height restrictions;
  • Investigate the needs for improving short-line rail service.