Pennsylvania’s Keystone Corridor is a rail route running east/west across the state linking Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia, roughly parallel to the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-76). It was constructed in the early 1900s by the Pennsylvania Railroad. The Keystone Corridor handles freight trains and passenger trains. Amtrak operates its Keystone service (Harrisburg – Philadelphia – New York) on the line, as well as its Pennsylvanian service (Pittsburgh – Harrisburg – Philadelphia – New York).
Keystone East refers to the 104-mile-long eastern portion of the Keystone Corridor, between Harrisburg and Philadelphia, owned by Amtrak. This segment is often generally referred to as the Keystone Corridor because it has the most ridership and has been the focus of major infrastructure and Amtrak service improvements since 2000. Keystone West refers to the western portion of the Keystone Corridor, between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, owned by Norfolk Southern.
Plan the Keystone is a study launched in 2009 to identify and prioritize infrastructure improvements to passenger rail stations along Keystone East. This website, PlantheKeystone.com, provides information on the planning, design, and construction of these improvements. For details on planned and completed improvements by location, click the Stations tab above.
Station needs vary along the Keystone Corridor, but making them accessible (under Americans with Disabilities Act requirements) is a top priority. Expanded parking areas, updated utilities, and historic restoration are other common improvements.
A series of improvements funded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Amtrak, and PennDOT—more than $400 million since 2000—has upgraded track and signals on Keystone East, reducing travel time on express trains between Harrisburg and Philadelphia to 1 hour, 35 minutes. The improved rail line allows trains to reach 110 mph, defined as high-speed rail.
The goal for Keystone East is to accommodate top speeds of 125 mph, reducing travel time to 1 hour, 15 minutes, or less. The last remaining public at-grade crossing (Eby Chiques Road in Lancaster County) was replaced by a bridge over the railroad tracks in October 2014, minimizing the risk of train/vehicle collisions. In addition, interlocking upgrades have been designed that would allow trains to change tracks at higher speeds. Construction is dependent upon future funding availability. Also in October 2014, Amtrak placed into service new Amtrak Cities Sprinter (ACS-64) electric locomotives. The high-tech locomotives are designed for improved reliability and easier maintenance compared with the older equipment they replaced, which was up to 35 years old.
The new Eby Chiques Bridge in Rapho Township, Lancaster County, opened in October 2014. This allowed the closing of the last remaining public at-grade crossing on Keystone East, “sealing” the corridor and helping prepare the way for increased train speeds.