Pennsylvanian (train)

Last updated

Amtrak "Pennsylvanian" at Bryn Mawr, PA.jpg
Pennsylvanian passing Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
First serviceApril 27, 1980
Current operator(s) Amtrak
Ridership223,114 total (FY16)
Start New York City, New York
End Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Distance travelled444 miles (715 km)
Average journey time9 hours, 15 minutes (westbound), 9 hours, 20 minutes (eastbound) [1]
Service frequency1 daily trip in each direction [1]
Train number(s)42, 43
On-board services
Class(es) Reserved Coach and Business Class
Seating arrangementsAirline-style coach seating
Catering facilitiesOn board café
Rolling stock Amfleet coaches
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Track owner(s) Norfolk Southern Railway

The Pennsylvanian is a 444-mile (715 km) daily daytime Amtrak train running between New York and Pittsburgh via Philadelphia. The trains travel across the Appalachian Mountains, through Pennsylvania's capital Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania Dutch Country, suburban and central Philadelphia, and New Jersey en route to New York. The entire train ride takes about 9 hours total, with 1.5 hours between New York and Philadelphia, 2 hours between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, and 5.5 hours between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. [1]


The Pennsylvanian uses the same Amtrak-owned Philadelphia to Harrisburg Main Line as the Keystone Service trains, but continues further west via the Pittsburgh Line through Altoona and the Allegheny Mountains, eventually terminating its run in Pittsburgh. [1] The Main Line and Pittsburgh Line collectively make up the Keystone Corridor, a federally-designated corridor for high speed rail service.

During fiscal year 2016, the Pennsylvanian carried 223,114 passengers, a 3.7% decrease over FY2015. The train had a total revenue of $11,555,451 during FY2016, up 0.2% from FY2015.


Prior to Amtrak, the Pennsylvanian route was covered by the Duquesne, named after Fort Duquesne in Pittsburgh, and by the Juniata, both trains operated by the Pennsylvania Railroad and from 1968 to 1971 by the PRR's successor, the Penn Central. [2] The Duquesne had a long history, finally becoming a daily New York–Pittsburgh train on October 25, 1959, numbered 16 eastbound and 25 westbound. When the Pennsylvania Railroad's successor, Penn Central, was formed in 1968, it continued to operate the Duquesne and the Juniata. [3]

With the start of Amtrak operations on May 1, 1971, the Duquesne was renamed the Keystone and renumbered 42 westbound and 43 eastbound with the first Amtrak timetable on November 14, 1971. The Keystone was discontinued on April 30, 1972. [4]

The immediate impetus for the Pennsylvanian was the discontinuance of the National Limited , a New York–Kansas City train which had provided service over the corridor. That train, in turn, was the successor of the famed Spirit of St Louis. [5] :75 The Pennsylvanian began on April 27, 1980, as a state-supported daylight train between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, with connecting service to New York via the Philadelphian (a Clocker ) westbound and the Montrealer eastbound. At the time the Pennsylvanian was inaugurated, the Broadway Limited was departing Pittsburgh at an inconvenient early morning hour. The new train ran with Amfleet equipment, including a cafe car. [6] [7] Pennsylvania agreed to pay 20% of the train's costs for the first year, or $580,000, with the state and Amtrak eventually splitting the costs 50/50 by the third year. [8]

Between 1981 and 1983, Pennsylvanian equipment was turned every night to operate a second state-supported train, the Fort Pitt , which ran from Pittsburgh to Altoona. [9] Amtrak withdrew this train in early 1983 after the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) declined to continue subsidizing the increased operation. At the time the Fort Pitt carried 30 passengers per day. [10] On October 30, 1983, the Pennsylvanian was extended to New York City, eliminating the transfer at Philadelphia. [11]

Genesis powered Amtrak Pennsylvanian passing Rosemont, Pennsylvania Amtrak Pennsylvanian TR43.jpg
Genesis powered Amtrak Pennsylvanian passing Rosemont, Pennsylvania

After significant ridership gains in 1984, PennDOT proposed that a second train be added to the route. PennDOT and Amtrak would have split the costs evenly. Amtrak officials were favorable, but budget problems stalled the plan. [12]

In the late 1980s passenger-rail groups urged Amtrak to extend the Pennsylvanian to Cleveland, Ohio. Proposals included new stations in Sewickley and Beaver Falls. [13] Pressure increased in 1989 when Amtrak announced the re-routing of the Broadway Limited and Capitol Limited over that same route as part of a restructuring of routes in Indiana. As part of this change, the Capitol Limited began serving the Cleveland–Pittsburgh route, albeit in the middle of the night. [14] Amtrak and PennDOT considered two routes for an extended Pennsylvanian: one via Alliance, Ohio (following the route of the Capitol Limited) and one via Youngstown, Ohio (partially following the Broadway Limited) with a new stop in New Castle, Pennsylvania. [15]

On November 7, 1998, Amtrak extended the Pennsylvanian through to Chicago along the route of the Capitol Limited via Toledo, finally bringing a daylight connection to Cleveland. The Three Rivers continued to run over a different schedule via Akron and Fostoria. As part of the change Amtrak truncated the eastern end to Philadelphia, enabling the train to complete the run within a single day. [16] [17] The change was driven by Amtrak's growing mail and express business; Pittsburgh–Philadelphia ridership suffered. [18] Amtrak returned the Pennsylvanian to the New York–Pittsburgh route on January 27, 2003, citing low ridership and Amtrak's withdrawal from the express freight business. [19] On November 1, 2004, Amtrak merged the Pennsylvanian and Three Rivers, keeping the latter name with a western terminus in Chicago. Amtrak had sought $2.5 million in assistance from Pennsylvania to keep both trains running. On March 8, 2005, Amtrak truncated service to Pittsburgh–New York and restored the Pennsylvanian name to the route. [20] [21]

The eastbound Pennsylvanian passes through Cassandra, Pennsylvania The Pennsylvanian (4932646659).jpg
The eastbound Pennsylvanian passes through Cassandra, Pennsylvania

There is currently no through service west of Pittsburgh, though the Capitol Limited continues to provide service to Chicago. As part of its federally mandated analysis of the worst-performing long-distance routes, Amtrak determined that reinstating a through-car connection with the Pennsylvanian would result in the highest gain in monetary and customer service measurements of possible options. [22] To implement this, Amtrak plans to operate a Viewliner sleeper car, an Amfleet cafe car and two Amfleet coaches between Chicago and New York approximating the historic Broadway Limited, via the Capitol Limited and Pennsylvanian. This would begin when funding and equipment is available. [22] On January 28, 2011, it was announced that Pennsylvania had received a $750,000 grant from the federal government to study expanding service westwards from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh along the route of the Pennsylvanian, including higher speeds and additional frequencies. [23]

The train has been primarily financed by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation since October 1, 2013, when the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 took effect. [24] This federal law eliminated federal subsidies for Amtrak routes less than 750 miles (1,210 km) in length. [25] [26]

In March 2020, the Pennsylvanian was suspended indefinitely as part of a round of service reduction in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. [27] Service will resume on June 1, 2020. [28]


Over fiscal years 2009–2016, ridership grew from 199,484 to 223,114, an increase of 10.6%. Ridership peaked at 231,720 in FY 2015. Ticket revenue grew from $7,819,404 to $11,555,451, an increase of 47.8%. [lower-alpha 1]

  •   Annual ridership
  •   Annual revenue


Sample consist
June 26, 2006
Location Pittsburgh
TrainEastbound #42
  • Locomotive: GE P42DC #139
  • Amfleet I coach #82559
  • Amfleet II coach #25056
  • Amfleet II coach #25117
  • Amfleet II coach #25001
  • Amfleet I business/cafe #48179
Amtrak EMD AEM-7 #905 with a westbound Pennsylvanian at Newark in 2012. This engine will be swapped out for a diesel locomotive in Philadelphia. Amtrak 905.jpg
Amtrak EMD AEM-7 #905 with a westbound Pennsylvanian at Newark in 2012. This engine will be swapped out for a diesel locomotive in Philadelphia.

On its inauguration the Pennsylvanian ran with then-new Amfleet equipment: two coaches and a cafe. [6] Today the Pennsylvanian continues to use an all-Amfleet consist although the number of coaches has grown to six. The train consists of an Amfleet I business class car, an Amfleet I cafe car, an Amfleet I coach, and three Amfleet II long-distance coach cars. Motive power is usually a Genesis diesel-electric locomotive west of Philadelphia. East of Philadelphia, the motive power is a Siemens ACS-64 electric locomotive; an engine swap is made at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. [36] A Viewliner II baggage car was added to the train in October 2019. [37]


The Pennsylvanian follows the Pennsylvania Railroad's Main Line over the following trackage: [38]

The route of the Pennsylvanian (interactive map) Amtrak Pennsylvanian.svg
The route of the Pennsylvanian(interactive map)


  1. Compiled from Amtrak's annual ridership and revenue reports. [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 "Pennsylvanian Timetable" (PDF). Amtrak. January 8, 2018. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  2. Pennsylvania timetable, August 1950, Table 39
  3. Penn Central East-West timetable, October, 1968
  4. Goldberg, Bruce (1981). Amtrak--the first decade. Silver Spring, MD: Alan Books. OCLC   7925036.
  5. Sanders, Craig (2006). Amtrak in the Heartland. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. ISBN   978-0-253-34705-3.
  6. 1 2 Fisher, Ken (April 28, 1980). "Amtrak Train Begins Daylight State Crossing". Post-Gazette . Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  7. Amtrak (August 3, 1980). "National Train Timetable" . Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  8. McCann, Tom (April 23, 1980). "Amtrak, PennDOT expand service". Daily Collegian . Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  9. McCann, Tom (April 15, 1981). "Amtrak expands service: Western Pa. to get Three full runs". The Daily Collegian . Retrieved August 9, 2009.
  10. "Train serving Latrobe, Greensburg finished". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette . December 24, 1982. Retrieved August 9, 2009.
  11. National Train Timetables. Amtrak. October 30, 1983. p. 34 via Museum of Railway Timetables.
  12. Fisher, Ken (January 7, 1986). "Second train to New York put on hold". Post-Gazette . Retrieved August 21, 2010.
  13. Sterling, Joe (March 15, 1989). "Amtrak may OK area stop for route". Pittsburgh Press . Retrieved August 21, 2010.
  14. Utterback, Debra (November 14, 1989). "Amtrak train heads for Beaver Falls, but it won't be stopping". Beaver Country Times . Retrieved August 21, 2010.
  15. Moore, Lori (September 28, 1990). "Group continues call for trains stop". Beaver Country Times . Retrieved August 21, 2010.
  16. "All Aboard: Amtrak schedule changes are what it has to do". Post-Gazette . September 9, 1998. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  17. Amtrak (October 25, 1998). "National Timetable" . Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  18. Johnston, Bob (May 2000). "Under a new strategy, Amtrak to add trains, routes". Trains . Vol. 60 no. 5. p. 16.  via  EBSCO 's Academic Search Complete (subscription required)
  19. Patch, David (December 11, 2002). "Amtrak trims Toledo service". Toledo Blade . Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  20. Ritchie, Jim (October 1, 2004). "PennDOT won't chip in for cross-state train". Tribune-Review . Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  21. Ritchie, Jim (March 6, 2005). "Pittsburgh to be end of the line for train". Tribune-Review . Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  22. 1 2 "PRIIA Section 210 FY10 Performance Improvement Plan Capitol Limited". Trains Magazine. Amtrak. Retrieved November 13, 2010.
  23. "Feds pledge $750G for rail study". Johnstown Tribune Democrat. January 28, 2011. Retrieved January 29, 2011.
  24. Bumsted, Brad (August 30, 2013). "State, Amtrak hope to fast-track passenger rail service deal". Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  25. Vock, Daniel C. (June 24, 2015). "States Take Larger Role in Passenger Rail". Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  26. "North Carolina and Amtrak Reach Agreement to Continue Passenger Rail Service" (Press release). Amtrak. September 27, 2013. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  27. "Service Adjustments Due to Coronavirus" (Press release). Amtrak. March 24, 2020. Archived from the original on March 25, 2020. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
  28. "Amtrak announces re-opening of some Pa. service, with new safety guidelines". PennLive. May 21, 2020. Retrieved May 22, 2020.
  29. "Amtrak FY16 Ridership and Revenue Fact Sheet" (PDF). Amtrak. April 17, 2017. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  30. "Amtrak FY15 Ridership & Revenue" (PDF) (PDF). Amtrak. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  31. "Amtrak Fiscal Year 2014 Ridership and Revenue" (PDF) (PDF). Amtrak. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 10, 2016. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  32. "Amtrak Fiscal Year 2013 Ridership and Revenue" (PDF) (PDF). Amtrak. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  33. "Amtrak Fiscal Year 2012 Ridership and Revenue" (PDF) (PDF). Amtrak. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 10, 2016. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  34. "Amtrak Fiscal Year 2011 Ridership and Revenue" (PDF) (PDF). Amtrak. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 10, 2016. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  35. "Amtrak Fiscal Year 2010 Ridership and Revenue" (PDF) (PDF). Amtrak. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 10, 2016. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  36. 1 2 "Pennsylvanian". TrainWeb. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
  38. Amtrak (June 2, 2013). "Pennsylvanian On-Time Performance" . Retrieved June 2, 2013.

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