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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: June 15, 2020 11:18 AM
From: Representative Tim Hennessey
To: All House members
Subject: Relinquishing Ownership of the Harrisburg Line to the Commonwealth
In the near future, I plan on introducing a resolution requesting that the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) relinquish to the Commonwealth the ownership of the Harrisburg Line.

The USDOT essentially obtained ownership of the Philadelphia to Harrisburg former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line (the Harrisburg Line) as the result of the passage of the  Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976, Pub.L. 94–210, S. 2718, 90 Stat. 31, enacted February 5, 1976, often called the "4R Act".

The 4R Act established the basic outlines of regulatory reform in the railroad industry and provided transitional operating funds following the 1970 bankruptcy of Penn Central Transportation Company and approved the "Final System Plan" for the newly created Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail) and authorized acquisition of Northeast Corridor (NEC) and the Harrisburg Line tracks and facilities by Amtrak.

However, even though Amtrak currently controls the Harrisburg Line and uses its own equipment and staff for the passenger rail services that they offer on that piece of railroad, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania subsidizes that line and every single passenger train operating over that line. Since the 4R Act, payments to Amtrak from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and SEPTA total more than $263M.

Since the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania contributes hundreds of millions of dollars to the maintenance and improvements of the line, the Commonwealth has demonstrated its long-term interest in offering its citizens quality passenger rail services. In addition, if the Commonwealth is able to gain ownership of the Harrisburg Line, it could offer increased frequencies of rail service at an equal or lower cost to its citizens than currently available, which is why I am introducing this resolution.

I hope that you will consider supporting this resolution.  

Introduced as HR918