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Pennsylvania will receive $143 million for rail upgrades between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg

 Harrisburg Train Station in Pennsylvania.
Kimberly Paynter
Harrisburg Train Station in Pennsylvania.

PennDOT is getting more than $143 million to improve freight rail and Amtrak service along the Keystone Corridor.

The money comes through theFederal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Grant Program, which will support the Pennsylvanian Rail Modernization Project.

The work will primarily focus on track and signal-related improvements along Norfolk Southern Railway’s main line between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg. The project will also help increase safety and improve reliability of all train operators.

The project will also focus on improving system and service performance along freight train routes, and the Amtrak Pennsylvanian service will receive additional capacity upgrades, which will allow for a second daily round trip of Amtrak’s service.

In an interview with WHYY News Thursday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said fewer disruptions on the tracks will mean trains can “operate the way they’re supposed to.”

“It benefits the whole state through the economic link between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, and of course anywhere upstream or downstream of that connection, including eastern Pennsylvania, can benefit from the reliability there,” Buttigieg said.

He said Eastern Pennsylvania will also be aided by other projects in the Corridor Identification Program.

“One is a proposed corridor to connect Scranton and New York,” Buttigieg said. “And another is the Reading-Philadelphia-New York Corridor to add intermediate stops and make a connection there. They would then link things into the Northeast Corridor.”

Buttigieg said the latter project is still in its early phases, but the opportunity presented will have a huge impact near the end of the decade.

“The sponsors are hoping to get four or even eight daily round trips,” Buttigieg said. “This alignment is already there, but they haven’t had passenger trains since 1983, and so many people in the Philly area would benefit if this becomes a reality.”

Construction on the Pennsylvanian Rail Modernization Project is planned to start sometime in 2024 and be completed by 2030. PennDOT will provide a 20% non-federal match.