The Amtrak Pennsylvanian

The Amtrak Pennsylvanian is one of the most relaxing and scenic ways to get across the great state of Pennsylvania. Travel through the beautiful Pennsylvania Amish country, through the Alleghany mountains, and around the world-famous “Horseshoe Curve.” From the City of Brotherly Love to the mountains of Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvanian is the way to go. Let’s learn more about the history of the Pennsylvanian, the route, station stops, schedule, and more!

The Pennsylvanian at a Glance

The Amtrak Pennsylvanian is a 444-mile passenger train that operates daily between New York and Pittsburgh via Philadelphia. This impressive route takes you through some of Pennsylvania’s most scenic landscapes, from the beautiful Pennsylvania Dutch Country to the hustle and bustle of the city. Total trip time between New York City and Pittsburg takes about nine hours.

The Amtrak Pennsylvanian made its debut in 1980, taking over the route formerly served by the Duquesne and the Juniata, which were both operated by the Pennsylvania Railroad prior to Amtrak.

In 1968, when the New York Central and the Pennsylvania merged into the Penn Central, the new operator continued the route between the two cities. Upon the formation of Amtrak on May 1, 1971, the Duquesne was renamed the “Keystone”, however, this was short lived as the Keystone was discontinued on April 30, 1972.

amtrak pennsylvanian
Ben Sutton

For a short time, the only train to operate on the New York-Pittsburgh route was the National Limited, which provided service between New York City – Kansas City.  However, this train was eventually discontinued, and there was an immediate push for a train between New York City and Pittsburgh.

Amtrak soon realized the need for this important service, and the Pennsylvanian began operations on April 27, 1980. Initially, the Pennsylvanian only operated between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, with the opportunity to transfer to the popular Clocker service between Philadelphia and New York.

The Pennsylvanian was a welcome addition to the route between the two cities, as the Broadway Limited departed Pittsburgh very early in the morning, making it difficult for many to make connections.

Due to increased ridership, the transfer at Philadelphia was eliminated, and the service was extended to New York City in October 1983.  If fact, ridership increased so dramatically that Amtrak extended the Pennsylvanian to Chicago via Toledo in 1998.

This was a long sought-after connection, as this extension brought daylight Amtrak service to Cleveland. However, this included truncating the service at Philadelphia, as Amtrak wanted the train to complete its trip in one day. This was short-lived, however, as the Pennsylvanian soon returned to its original New York-Pittsburgh route due to dwindling ridership.

Another change came on November 1, 2004, when the Three Rivers and Pennsylvanian merged, keeping the Three Rivers name and doing away with the Pennsylvanian. However, this was short-lived, as the Pennsylvanian’s original route was restored on March 8, 2005.

amtrak horsehoe curve
Mike Bischak

Amtrak Pennsylvanian Route and Schedule

The Pennsylvanian operates on the Pennsylvania Railroad’s former main line to Chicago. It traverses the Northeast Corridor between New York City and Philadelphia, the Keystone Corridor between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, and continues onto the Norfolk Southern Pittsburgh Line between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. The train operates as 43 westbound and 42 eastbound.

The service is convenient for many, passing through some of the most popular cities and towns, such as Harrisburg and Lancaster. The stations currently served by the Pennsylvanian include:

  • New York, NY: Take the Pennsylvanian to the “Big Apple”! With convenient service to NYC from various locations throughout Pennsylvania, your next trip to New York awaits! The Pennsylvanian often departs New York late morning.
  • Newark, NJ: Newark is the most populous city in New Jersey, and is located in Essex County. The Pennsylvanian provides easy access to Newark residents to various locations throughout NJ and PA.
  • Trenton, NJ: The Pennsylvanian provides convenient access to Trenton, NJ. Whether you live in Trenton or are visiting for business, the Pennsylvanian can get you there.
  • Philadelphia, PA: Welcome to the “City of Brotherly Love.” Philadelphia is a popular destination along the route and is where the train changes direction and heads either west on the Keystone Corridor or east, on the Northeast Corridor, depending on direction.
  • Ardmore, PA: Situated just a few miles outside Philadelphia, Ardmore is one of the many towns along the “Main Line” of the Philly suburbs. Ardmore has some of the best dining, shopping, and nightlife in the area.
  • Paoli, PA: The next stop on the Pennsylvanian is Paoli. Nestled in Chester County, Paoli was actually considered to be one of the best places to live in Pennsylvania. Hop off the Pennsylvanian at this stop and explore everything this town offers.
  • Exton, PA: Located in West Whiteland Township in Chester County, Exton is home to many historic sites, such as Whitford Lodge, Whitford Hall, Woodlark Station, and the Zook House. So stop by Exton and see this impressive town for yourself.
  • Lancaster, PA: Located in beautiful Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Lancaster is one of the most popular destinations along the route. While you’re there, check out the historic Strasburg Railroad for a fun trip on one of the country’s oldest operating railroads.
  • Elizabethtown, PA: Elizabethtown is the last stop before reaching Harrisburg and is a vibrant and scenic community in northwestern Lancaster County.
  • Harrisburg, PA: Harrisburg is the state capitol of Pennsylvania, and where the train leaves the Keystone Corridor, and enters Norfolk Southern’s Pittsburgh Line for the duration of the trip to Pittsburgh.
  • Lewistown, PA: Located in scenic Mifflin County, Lewistown is a beautiful town full of vibrant community, situated in Pennsylvania Dutch Country.
  • Huntingdon, PA: Located in Huntingdon County, the town of Huntington is nestled along the Juniata River, about 32 miles east of  Altoona.
  • Tyrone, PA: Named after County Tyrone in Ireland, Tyrone is a small borough located in Blair County and is about 15 miles from Altoona.
  • Altoona, PA: Altoona is a popular stop for railfans, as it is the location of the world-famous Horseshoe Curve and Norfolk Southern’s Juniata Shops.
  • Johnstown, PA: Johnstown is nestled in Cambria County, about 57 miles east of Pittsburgh. It has quite a diverse population and is recognized for its history and innovation.
  • Latrobe, PA: Located in Westmoreland County, Latrobe is a popular place to visit and has many things to do and see, such as the Latrobe Brewery.
  • Greensburg, PA: Greensburg is known for its many historic sites and is a cultural mecca for many. Venues include the Garden and Civic Center, Old Hanna’s Town, Palace Theatre, and more.
  • Pittsburgh, PA: Steel City USA is the final stop on the westbound run and where the train originates on the eastbound run. There are many things to do and see in Pittsburgh, almost too many to count. However, one thing’s for sure; the Pennsylvanian is the best way to get there! Here you can connect to the Capitol Limited for service to Chicago.

Amtrak Pennsylvanian Train Consist

When the Pennsylvanian began operation in 1980, the standard consist was an EMD F40PH locomotive/AEM-7 and Amfleet cars. The consist has changed little over the years, with the modern-day Pennsylvanian operating with either a P42DC “Genesis” locomotive or a Dash 8-32BWH locomotive between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and an ACS-64 between Philadelphia and New York. In 2019, a baggage car was added to the consist for checked baggage at select stations.

As Amtrak plans to introduce new passenger cars in the coming years, the Pennsylvanian will soon be hauled by a Siemens Charger locomotive and have Siemens Venture coaches replacing the Amfleets. This consist is dubbed by Amtrak as Airo Trainsets.

Amtrak Pennsylvanian Classes of Service

There are two classes of service on the Pennsylvanian, Business Class, and Coach Class. WiFi is provided throughout the train, and the cafe car is available to all passengers. The standard seating in coach class is 2×2, whereas business class is 2×1.

One perk of business class is that passengers receive complimentary soft drinks. Business class is usually offered on the Amfleet Club Car, which is half cafe and half business class seating.

What Does The Future Hold for the Pennsylvanian?

Future plans for the Pennsylvanian include eventual through service to Chicago via the Capitol Limited. Amtrak stated that it would be advantageous to place a Viewliner Sleeper, an Amfleet cafe car, and two Amfleet coaches between New York and Chicago via the Capitol Limited, imitating the route of the famous Broadway Limited.

A study has also proposed expanding service westward from Harrisburg,  which would include two daily trains and higher speeds. According to the Pennsylvania State Rail Plan 2020, a second trip was again proposed; however, this time, with one trip beginning and terminating in Cleveland. This planned increase in service is planned to begin in 2026.










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