Passenger and freight rail

To reduce Amtrak's maintenance backlog, which has worsened since Superstorm Sandy nine years ago, the bill would provide $66 billion to improve the rail service's 457-mile-long Northeast Corridor as well as other routes. It's less than the $80 billion Biden — who famously rode Amtrak from Delaware to D.C. during his time in the Senate — originally asked for, but it would be the largest federal investment in passenger rail service since Amtrak was founded 50 years ago.

READING, Pa. — Amtrak is planning to bring a host of local leaders together to discuss its plan to expand passenger train service in Pennsylvania, including Berks County and the Lehigh Valley.

The Greater Reading Chamber Alliance announced Wednesday that Amtrak will host a virtual roundtable discussion that will focus on the need for more passenger train service in the commonwealth.

The meeting, which is set for this Friday, will involve Gov. Tom Wolf, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, a Democrat who represents northeastern Pennsylvania; former U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, who serves as the chamber alliance's president and CEO; Leonard Lightner, the deputy mayor of Allentown; Scranton Mayor Paige Cognetti; Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn; and Amtrak President Stephen Gardner.

Amtrak is proposing the addition of 39 routes across the country, including one that would link Reading with Philadelphia and New York City and another that would connect Allentown to New York.

Neither Berks County nor the Lehigh Valley has had passenger train service since 1981.

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