Pittsburgh to New York by way of Harrisburg (WHTM) The 1960s and 1970s were disastrous for the American rail industry. Outcompeted by cars, trucks, and airplanes, profits nosedived, and rail systems started to go bankrupt.
Ultimately the Federal government had to step in and salvage the fiscal train wreck. Consolidated Rail (Conrail) was created to keep the freight trains rolling, and in 1970 President Richard Nixon signed the Rail Passenger Service Act creating the National Railroad Passenger Corporation or, as it’s better known, Amtrak.
Get daily news, weather, breaking news, and alerts straight to your inbox! Sign up for the abc27 newsletters here
Amtrak began taking over passenger rail service across the country, deciding which services to keep, change, or dump. (They would end up pruning about half the routes.) One particular route seemed particularly worth continuing – a New York City to Pittsburgh trip run by the now-defunct Pennsylvania Railroad.
The route was known by many names over the years; the Duquesne Express, Keystone, Juniata, Manhattan Limited, Chicago Limited, and possibly its best-known name, Broadway Limited. (Broadway, in this case, refers not to Broadway in New York City, but to the Pennsylvania Railroad’s main line with four tracks side by side – the Broad Way.)
On April 27, 1980, the route started running with a new name, the Pennsylvanian, which it uses to this very day. It travels daily between New York City and Pittsburgh, where it connects to trains heading west to Cleveland, Toledo, and Chicago.
The Pennsylvanian should see a lot of improvements over the next few years. New engines will be more efficient, and with improved track will be able to reach speeds up to 125 miles per hour. New cars will come with larger windows, individual power outlets, USB ports, and onboard Wi-Fi. If all goes as planned, many of these improvements will be in place by 2026.
For a list of all the Pennsylvania Railroad passenger route names, click here.