Presidential order could help bring passenger rail back to Lehigh Valley

Written by on July 13, 2021

Presidential order could help bring passenger rail back to Lehigh Valley

By Hayden Mitman
July 13, 2021

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh Valley might be one step closer to seeing passenger rail service return with help from President Joe Biden’s recent executive order

Listen to the story.

Through the order, Biden pushes the Surface Transportation Board to require owners of freight railroad tracks to provide right-of-way for passenger trains and local commuters could benefit

The last passenger train between the Lehigh Valley and New York City ceased operation in 1961. 

Earlier this year, Amtrak proposed restoring this connection. 

The project is part of the federally owned passenger rail company’s vision plan. But the problem is, locally, Amtrak doesn’t own these tracks. 

Most have been abandoned and what remains is owned and used by Norfolk Southern, a freight company that has historically been unwilling to share track. 

Biden’s order aims to change that. 

Amtrak president Bill Flynn says it will, “Open the nation’s tracks to more frequent and reliable passenger rail service.”

The Association of American Railroads says the order could undermine freight railroads’ “ability to reliably serve customers.”

Norfolk Southern did not immediately return calls for comment.

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