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Amtrak and the Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority (PNRRA) have released the findings of a two-year study that examined the potential for a passenger-rail route between New York City and Scranton, Pennsylvania.
The route's outlined vision plan includes three daily roundtrips taking about two hours and 50 minutes each way, Amtrak officials said in a press release. Amtrak estimates 470,000 riders annually.
The trains would travel up to 110 mph on the Lackawanna Cutoff segment. Stations in between Scranton and New York City would be located in Mount Pocono and East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, and Blairstown, Dover, Morristown, Montclair and Newark, New Jersey.
"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 press release. "Restoring and expanding this corridor with daily multifrequency service would dramatically boost mobility and economic development for residents of Scranton and Northeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and the broader Northeast region."
The study included an infrastructure assessment for the Pennsylvania segment, which suggested that the 60-mile segment owned by PNRRA would be upgraded to Federal Railroad Administration track classes 3 and 4 to increase speeds. Signals and positive train control systems would also be installed, Amtrak officials said.
PNRRA also jointly owns another 20-mile segment with the state of New Jersey and currently has no track. New Class 4 or 6 track would be built with added signals and PTC system installations.
The remaining 56 miles of track heading into New York is owned by New Jersey Transit and Amtrak.
Class 4 track is rated for a maximum of 80 mph, while class 6 track is rated for a maximum of 110 mph.
If Amtrak advances the project, service could begin as early as 2028, Amtrak officials said. Next steps include applying for federal funding through the FRA's Corridor Identification and Development Program; completing the final design; securing remaining funding sources; and completing subsequent construction projects and acquiring trains.
Track improvements on PNRRA-owned segments would cost $100 million to $175 million; train acquisition would cost $70 million to $90 million. Combined, those costs are expected to represent 30% to 45% of the project's total cost.