States’ Support Gets Major Rail Projects Rolling


Several significant rail projects currently in development highlight the importance of state partnerships. Teams representing projects in Pennsylvania and North Carolina stressed the importance of states’ support of their work in the Pipeline of Projects session at the APTA Rail Conference.

Joe Barr, Amtrak director of network development, listed some ambitious goals for Amtrak, such as doubling ridership by 2040, electrification and alternative fuels to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2045, and expanding services and frequencies across the country. “We can’t do these projects without the states… we’re not in the driver’s seat, the states and other partners are.”

From left: Joe Giulietti; Troy Creasy; Bharat Kumar Peddu, independent consultant; Angela Watson, director, Bureau of Rail, Freight, Ports, & Waterways, PennDOT; Jeff Knueppel, vice president & corporate transit practice leader, KCI Technologies, Inc.; Joe Barr, director of network development, Amtrak; Adam Baginski, vice president, rail/transit, Envision Consultants, Ltd.

In Pennsylvania, PennDOT is working with KCI Technologies, Inc.; Envision Consultants, Ltd.; and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) to improve the Keystone Service. Keystone East, Harrisburg to New York, is slated for 14 new or rebuilt stations, significant interlocking updates, and bridge replacements, with expected completion by 2030. Keystone West, Harrisburg to Pittsburgh, is building toward twice-daily round trip service by 2026.

Keystone was one of three successful applications to FRA’s Corridor ID program. The others, Scranton and Reading, were submitted by PennDOT in partnership with Pennsylvania Northeast Rail Authority and New Jersey TRANSIT, and the Schuylkill River Passenger Rail Authority, respectively.

In North Carolina, NCDOT is creating a high-speed rail project in the footprint of the longstanding S-Line, Richmond to Raleigh. The collaboration with Amtrak, FRA, and the state of Virginia will include 162 miles of rail and 110 mph top speeds.

Troy Creasy, branch manager of design & construction, NCDOT Rail Division, said Amtrak had asked for higher speeds, which is now a goal of this FRA priority project. He added that 56 miles of the full project would be shared use with passenger and freight.

Joe Giulietti, vice president, TYLIN, moderated the session. TYLIN sponsored the session.

View more images from the conference here.