SCRANTON, Pa. — A recent push by federal and state lawmakers to bring Amtrak back to Northeastern Pennsylvania has seen the once-rumored topic gain some major traction.
A two-year analysis by the rail service company and the Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority shows an 84 million dollar increase in economic activity between tourism and the local economy, reducing traffic on major interstates and highways and offering an alternative means of transportation for commuters.
State Representative Kyle Mullins says this is the biggest push to bring Amtrak back to the area in years.
"It will be the largest economic development opportunity perhaps in this generation or two," said Mullins. "This is not just that we're not just talking about a benefit to the city of Scranton, but to the entire northeast Pennsylvania region."
The total trip from Scranton to New York, according to the analysis, would be two hours and 50 minutes.
This includes a stop in the borough of Mount Pocono, where residents we spoke with say they're on either side of the fence when it comes to having it run through their area.
"If I wanted all that, I would've stayed in Brooklyn," said Derrick Wright of Pocono Lake. "It's taken away from the great Poconos. It's beautiful out here."
"I think it'll be beneficial for the whole area, in general. I do real estate, so it'll definitely benefit me with the people moving out from in and out easy commute back-and-forth," said Patrick Parker of Mount Pocono.
Edward Enriquez, who moved to the Poconos after retiring from law enforcement in New York City, says he's worried about the people who would use Amtrack for the wrong reasons.
"It's good, but the commute is what concerns me sometimes cause it's easy to come and go. Right now, you need a vehicle to get out of here," said Enriquez. "So you know what I mean, you put out a APB on a vehicle, you find some, but I think it's safer right now the way it is."
Amtrak has released its study on the proposed rail service between Scranton and New York.
The study aims to have three roundtrips a day from stations in Scranton and the Poconos.
Under the plan, the first trip would leave Scranton daily at 7 a.m.
There would be two stops in the Poconos, Mount Pocono at 7:38 a.m. and East Stroudsburg at 8:01 a.m.
The train would then make three stops in New Jersey before arriving in Newark at 9:35 a.m. and finally in Manhattan by 9:53 a.m.
The goal is to be able to complete the trip from Scranton to New York in under three hours.
Coming home, the final train of the day would leave new york at 8:11 p.m., arriving in Scranton just after 11 p.m.
Amtrak estimates the project would bring more than $80 million to the local economy.
There are still quite a few hurdles to overcome: upgrading tracks, hiring and training workers, not to mention actually buying the trains.
Rail service from Scranton to New York won't begin anytime before the year 2028.
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