Rep. Smucker Continues Fight to Improve Regional Passenger Rail Service

February 1, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC —Today, Rep. Lloyd Smucker announced the reintroduction of the Keystone Line for the Commonwealth Act, H.R. 609. First introduced last year, the legislation would require the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, commonly known as Amtrak, to transfer ownership of the Keystone East Line and certain stations along that line to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for management by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

“I continue to believe the closer a government entity is to those it serves, the more accountable it must be. Transferring ownership and management of the Keystone East Line to PennDOT will allow for proper oversight, expanded services, and improved management of taxpayer funded projects. Amtrak, as I have witnessed first-hand as a former member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has demonstrated they are not serious about addressing ever-present management and service issues along the line,” said Smucker.

Amtrak’s recent service cuts along the Keystone East Line have impacted my constituents. While the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted ridership, Congress has appropriated approximately $2 billion in direct emergency support to Amtrak. Residents and commuters in south central Pennsylvania deserve the high-level service they have been seeking. Amtrak is incapable of delivering that service and sends the revenue generated on the line out of the Commonwealth. It is time for new management, and I am confident that PennDOT will be able to provide better, more frequent service to commuters and the residents of Pennsylvania’s Eleventh Congressional District,” said Smucker. 

Background: The Keystone East Line is one of Amtrak’s state-supported rail lines that runs wholly within Pennsylvania. The line’s operations are heavily subsidized by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, at approximately $100 million annually. The Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA) required that certain routes, like the Keystone East Line, be funded directly by the states.

This line, which Amtrak operates in Pennsylvania between Harrisburg, PA and Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, contains 12 stations in Pennsylvania. The Southeast Pennsylvania Transit Authority, or SEPTA, also operates its Paoli-Thorndale Commuter Rail service along the Keystone line. Where SEPTA operates on the Keystone and Northeast Corridor Spine, it is the primary user of those lines.

Smucker’s legislation received bipartisan support from Pennsylvania’s top transportation officials, from the Pennsylvania General Assembly and from Lancaster County’s Commissioners.