US national rail company Amtrak has begun a $122m track renewal project in Pennsylvania as it looks to upgrade infrastructure on the Harrisburg main line dating back to the 1950s. 

The project will include the installation of 43 track miles of new rail, almost 100% of the railway in the area, and the replacement of wood ties with longer-lasting concrete ties along the section of the route between Lancaster and Harrisburg. 

Laura Mason, Amtrak’s executive vice president of capital delivery, said: “Amtrak is making historic infrastructure investments through projects like this one, which will replace obsolete 1950s-era rail infrastructure, which is at the end of its useful life. 

“We’re taking a fresh approach and expediting this important project with a combination of single and full track outages that will improve work efficiencies and reduce the duration of customer impacts.” 

Scheduled to last until December 2024, upgrades and refurbishments on the track will also include the cleaning and refreshing of the 43 miles of gravel track bed along the line to improve drainage. 

Significant track closures on the line have been scheduled to take place from 8 April to 21 November between 8am and 4pm from Monday to Thursday each week, a schedule that Amtrak claims will affect only 450 daily customers on the Keystone Service. 

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The project is part of Amtrak’s expedited upgrade of the Northeast Corridor (NEC), which was last renewed in the 1970s. It is also one of the most popular sections on the network, running between Boston, Massachusetts and Washington DC, stopping at major cities, including New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore. 

Amtrak and its partners have received billions of dollars in federal funding towards the NEC project, including a $16bn investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in November 2023.