Amtrak, PennDOT and SEPTA team up for $15.9M in federal grants for Harrisburg Line

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The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), Amtrak, and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot) have jointly received $15.9 million in federal funding to improve the Keystone Line’s signals.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, the money was awarded to the three entities to address issues on the Amtrak-owned Harrisburg line, also known as the Keystone Line, from the FRA Federal-State Partnership for the State of Good Repair Grant program.

While the railroad is owned, maintained, and dispatched by Amtrak, the line serves intercity rail services in partnership with Pennsylvania and SEPTA.

The FRA grant funding will support upgrades to signal systems on the line between Paoli and Overbrook. The new equipment will give the railroad more operational flexibility and higher operating speeds and reduce Amtrak and SEPTA passengers delays.

“The signal system upgrades that will be made possible through this grant will significantly improve service reliability for SEPTA customers traveling on the Paoli-Thorndale Line,” said SEPTA General Manager Leslie S. Richards. “SEPTA is pleased to partner with PennDOT and Amtrak on initiatives to improve operational flexibility and reduce congestion on the Harrisburg Line. We are grateful for the efforts of our Congressional delegation to make these funds available, and to the FRA for its continued support of these critical improvements.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Keystone Line experienced sustained growth for the last decade and a half. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, PennDOT, Amtrak, and SEPTA said they are fully committed to improving the operation and maintenance of the signal systems and other critical infrastructure projects along the railroad.

“This project is a critical step forward in a renewed effort between Amtrak, PennDOT, and SEPTA to optimize the Harrisburg Line for all of our passengers and will generate benefits worth four times the project cost,” said Ray Lang, Vice President of State-Supported Services for Amtrak. “Not only will this project improve reliability and throughput on the Harrisburg Line, an additional benefit will include operational flexibility on the line during outages, which is key to many PennDOT and SEPTA sponsored projects in the coming years.”