Plans for a train ride to New York have jumped the tracks. Running a one-day train excursion from Allentown to New York seemed like such a good idea that when an Amtrak official suggested it in December, people from three states began inquiring about tickets.
Apparently, the idea was better in concept than execution, because the train ride Amtrak executive Joe McHugh said could happen by April not only hasn’t happened, it probably won’t — at least not any time soon.
~ Matt Assad, from Allentown Train Ride to New York Derailed
“This would be an amazing way to get people to visualize that this is not an impossible task,” said Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski. “This will show people that we can get from point A to point B right now. This can be done.”
~ Matt Assad, from Amtrak running one passenger train from Allentown to New York City next spring
I can’t tell you how many local articles I’ve read on the subject. Kirk Raup of Bethlehem is frequently quoted with ideas that could bring this elusive endeavor to reality. Raup makes sense to any objective observer. He cites how important it is for our city and county leaders to form a regional rail transit agency necessary to start the ball rolling, and he gives some suggestions on how it might be funded.
~ Wally Ely, from Lehigh Valley Shouldn’t Miss the Next Train
McHugh suggested starting with a Lehigh Valley to New York City area route, citing the high number of bus trips between the areas daily.
Rail service in the Lehigh Valley isn’t something that is just on McHugh’s radar screen. He cited a 2010 PA State Rail Plan that identified the Lehigh Valley as a strategic freight corridor and the fact passenger rail in the eastern corridor of the state is thought of at Amtrak as a “Vision Project,” meaning it’s thought to have good potential but isn’t funded.
Speaking to the benefits of rail, McHugh stated, “Everywhere we go, economic development follows. If you are looking for a different way to revitalize a downtown, rail service brings it.”
~ from 5 Things We Learned at the Summit for Smart Growth
It’s the brain child of Joe McHugh, an Amtrak executive who happens to be an Allentown native and longs for those days when passenger trains stopped at stations in all three Lehigh Valley cities.
“It’s very preliminary, but we’re going to make it happen,” said McHugh, Amtrak’s vice president of government affairs. “We’ll start in Allentown, go into Bethlehem, pass Bethlehem Steel onto Freemansburg, Easton and then New Jersey, probably at High Bridge. I’m committed to getting this done.”
~ from Amtrak running one passenger train from Allentown to New York City next spring