‘New era of rail’

Amtrak’s trains to pass through Lewistown in 2026

A front view of the new faster engines.

LEWISTOWN — The Lewistown Junction Train Station has seen a lot of trains pass through during its 174-year history, but nothing quite like Amtrak’s new Airo train, which is scheduled to debut in 2026.

Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian route, which stops in Lewistown twice daily, will add modern, faster passenger trains once rail upgrades have been completed, Amtrak officials said.

Touted as part of the “new era of rail,” Amtrack officials said the Airo’s passenger cars will be equipped with panoramic windows and business commuter-friendly features.

“Our new trains will transform the Amtrak experience with significant environmental benefits, a progressive design and world-class amenities,” Amtrak President Roger Harris said.

Manufactured by Siemens in California, passenger cars for the Airo trains will feature modern interiors, self-service food options, wayfinding with color-coded system, enhanced comfort with spacious seating, enhanced lighting, improved technology and a greener impact. The brand-new locomotives also can reach speeds up to 125 miles per hour.

Business class customers will have the option to choose between sitting in a double or single seat. Dedicated individual outlets and USB ports will be added, along with on-board wireless internet, Amtrak officials said.

The Pennsylvanian line is also expanding with a second round-trip route through Johnstown, Latrobe and Altoona through a Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg connection announced by state and federal officials earlier this year.

Through a deal between transportation officials and line owner Norfolk Southern, $200 million in line upgrades are planned over the next few years to enable the rails to handle the additional traffic and existing freight trains.

Amtrack’s Keystone Service, which has stops in Harrisburg, Philadelphia and New York, is also set to receive the new trains.

The Airo trains will reportedly replace the carrier’s 50-year-old rolling stock.

“PennDOT is a proud supporter of intercity passenger rail and promotes mobility options for all Pennsylvanians,” Andy Batson, PennDOT acting deputy secretary for multimodal transportation, said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with Amtrak to provide high-quality transportation in Pennsylvania.”

That is expected to include upgrades to sections of rail between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh in the coming years. PennDOT Press Secretary Alexis Campbell said, “Those tracks are owned by Norfolk Southern, and we are finalizing an agreement with them to make a series of track improvements between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.” Campbell said additional details once the agreement is finalized.

Equipped with diesel and electric power sources, the trains will not need to switch locomotives when switching from electrified tracks in Philadelphia to non-electrified tracks to the west.

That’s currently the case for the Pennsylvanian and other routes that use overhead power lines for portions of the trip. Amtrak said the locomotives are also more fuel-efficient and will produce 90 percent fewer particulate emissions in diesel operations.

Amtrak said the new trains are part of a “larger transformation” project, which will “revolutionize” its experience with major infrastructure projects, service expansion, station upgrades, modernization efforts and improved track capacity along the Northeast Corridor.


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