Burns: $200 million rail investment to bring opportunities, connections to Cambria County

State investment will upgrade rail infrastructure, expand Amtrak service

HARRISBURG, June 27 – A major $200 million state investment in western Pennsylvania railroad infrastructure will create opportunities and expand passenger rail connections from Cambria County to major East Coast cities and markets, state Rep. Frank Burns said Monday following the announcement.

“This major state funding initiative will bring needed infrastructure and safety investments to existing rail lines, potentially allowing for more freight and passenger service to areas like Johnstown and Cambria County,” Burns said. “The railroad has a rich history in our region, and I’m hopeful this major investment will keep that history going forward – and offer new opportunities for businesses and industry in our region.”

Over the past four months, the state Transportation Department and Norfolk Southern collaborated to develop an operating agreement framework and finalized the improvements necessary to increase passenger-rail service on the Norfolk Southern-owned corridor between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. The parties anticipate a final definitive agreement to be developed by the end of 2022. Construction can begin after the definitive agreement is executed, with the new service anticipated to start within three years of the definitive agreement’s execution. 

The commonwealth will invest more than $200 million in infrastructure and safety improvements that will be constructed and maintained by Norfolk Southern. The future improvements and construction will stem from a previously released Norfolk Southern operational feasibility study and includes upgraded rail lines, passenger platforms, sidings and necessary communications signals infrastructure.

“This is an excellent example of the positive solutions that government and business can engineer by working side by side toward the same goal. Together, we are able to expand passenger rail access, while preserving a critical artery of our nation’s supply chain. This truly is a model for future public-private rail agreements,” said Norfolk Southern Chief Strategy Officer Mike McClellan.

Norfolk Southern’s Pittsburgh Line, which runs through Johnstown, is part of the Premier Corridor, a main artery for double-stack intermodal traffic moving between Chicago and metropolitan New York. It is one of the busiest and fastest links on Norfolk Southern’s network, connecting with major terminals in Toledo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and the Lehigh Valley. In a typical year, more than half of Norfolk Southern’s time-sensitive parcel and less-than-truckload shipments use the route at some point. The company’s trains deliver or pick up freight at 140-plus stations along the corridor, serving more than 800 customers.