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Welcome to Wilkes-Barre Rail

This page is home base to the online sharing and chronicling of transit rail evolution information in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, and NEPA in general.

Wilkes-Barre Rail blog entries are here. A quick summary of transit rail projects is here.

The Latest

Read the Latest WB Rail Blog Entry: Wilkes-Barre is Player in Hyperloop Study
3/16/2019 Hyperloop Tunnel Eyed for Pennsylvania
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is mentioned as a northeastern terminus for the (pre) emerging hyperloop transportation technology. How serious is this? To the tune of a $2 million feasibility study.
6/27/2018 Andover Twp. Resolution Advances Lackawanna Cut-Off Railroad Project
Context: Andover Township and others, including Hudson Farms, reached an agreement that allows New Jersey Transit to access Hudson Farm's property -- that doesn't involve the ugly tactic of eminent domain. That's it, that was the final hurdle. NJ Transit may now move forward with physical construction and advancement of the rail line that will in fact reach NEPA at some eventual point.
1/26/2018 Andover Twp. OKs Appraisal in Rail Extension
12/20/2017 Train Station, Restored Rail Service Looking More Likely
Context - Related to the last timeline entry, discusses how the promise to reimburse the small Andover Township community for land acquisition and legal costs by NJ Transit will mean the restoration of an old train station to be utilized for the new service.
12/19/2017 Lackawanna Cutoff Project Ready to Roll?
Context - As the Lackawanna Cutoff Project eeks itself ever closer to completion, so does the reality of a Scranton-to-NYC commuter rail connection. Just think even "eekier" though.
9/9/2017 Luzerne County Council Set to Vote on Strategic Plan
Context: Passenger rail gets a peep from the Luzerne County Council in the form of long term strategic head space. This is good, this is very good. Combined with the recent (and successful) effort to stave off a quick buck by selling existing rail for scrap (more to protect the right of way than the rail itself), this is proof positive that Luzerne County may be, however back-of-the-mindish, poised to one day take Wilkes-Barre intercity or light rail seriously.
8/10/2017 New Culvert OK'D to Put Andover Rail Station on Track
Context: As a reminder, the Lackawanna Cutoff project is an actual in-progress New Jersey Transit commuter rail system with the mapped goal of terminating in Scranton. Today when people talk about the NEPA rail connection to New York City they are likely referring to this project. System progress is relatively rife in New Jersey but very little if any progress has been made in the Pennsylvania corridors. Wikipedia article.
6/22/2017 Bipartisan Letter Demands Answers on Rail Extension
6/21/2017 What Ever Happened to Expanding NJ TRANSIT Service to Sussex County?
5/20/2017 Luzerne County Redevelopment Authority Mulls Selling Rail from Train Tracks
5/19/2017 Luzerne County Redevelopment Authority Rejects Abandoned Rail Sale
Context - While there are no tangible actions being taken in Luzerne County regarding transit rail today, the preservation of existing rail lines and by extension right-of-ways, is crucial to keeping future options open. Selling the discussed rail for scrap could jeopardize standing deeds to the right-of-way, so the sale rejection is a win for future rail transit.
5/18/2017 Andover Twp. Mayor Tells N.J. Transit to Get Cutoff on Track
4/29/2017 This Town has America's Lousiest Commute
Context - For the price of an average apartment in Manhattan (and likely in any of its surrounding buroughs), it's cheaper to live in, say, Monroe County Pennsylvania and then commute to work. People figured this out decades ago but the drum beat to slide to work in a train instead of on a bus or in speed-demon traffic (or molasses-like congestion) has picked up now that more people than ever are trying it. With high speed rail technology, Wilkes-Barre could just as easily be the better living end of this lifestyle. Warning: at the time of this link posting the destination page had an arbitrary video playing at the top. The article of read is under it.
12/20/2016 Train Route Between Scranton, New York City Not yet a Reality
11/17/2016 Will Commuter Train Ever Come to NEPA?
11/6/2016 Monroe County Gives $50,000 for Train Study
5/17/2016 Grants Keep Poconos to New York Commuter Train Moving
5/17/2016 Grants Keep Poconos to New York Commuter Train Moving
11/28/2015 More of Everything Needed for Scranton-To-NYC Passenger Train
10/15/1915 Last Streetcar Run in Wilkes-Barre

Projects of Focus

There are a number of issues this page monitors as it relates to the development of transit rail in Wilkes-Barre and the region at large.

Lackawanna Cutoff Project - This is a long active plan for NJ Transit to connect New York City with Scranton using conventional commuter (if not optimized) trains. Actual work is being done on the New Jersey half of the project to advance trackage toward the PA border but virtually no work has been done on the Pennsylvania side as of 2019. This is technically a project to restore service as it once thrived early in the previous century.

Intercity Light or Regional Rail - There have been ghosty mentions here and there to connect Hazleton, and cities in between, such as Wilkes-Barre, with a light rail system touching Scranton. As above, almost as more a restoration of prior service which existed once as a booming streetcar system.

The Pennsylvania Hyperloop - There is currently a monied study being paid for by the PA Turnpike Authority to develop a hyperloop system between Philadelphia and Pittsburg, with a specific jaunt connecting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. If built it would be one of the first fixed guideway solutions employing this otherwise hypothetical and some suspect "over-hyped" transportation technology. This strikes WBRAIL as a bit lofty; the "official" support of this website is for a high speed rail system or an optimized conventional commuter service.

Indirect Rail Topics - I also use WBRAIL as a vehicle to commentate on local issues, politics, and events which all, in some way, affect the probability of any actual transit rail development in Luzerne County. Wilkes-Barre is my home town and I will always care about its fabric and direction.

What Gets Posted

I include links to mainstream media links, blogs (including those from Wilkes-Barre Rail's own entry category) and other PR information posts that are released directly by agencies at their respective websites, and individual online commentary in various forms, whenever said content is pertinent to the advancement of transit rail options in the region. News and information links deemed likely to directly or indirectly impact this kind of development are also sometimes included.

The goal of the link list is to provide a consistent chronological narrative on the march toward rail that visitors can consume in a single visit.

The list is manually curated in order to provide the best web experience. For example, while not always possible, I link to less ad-infested resources over more infested ones when the same information is being presented. I also try to avoid those resources with pay walls or any other blocks to the wider audience. I cross out links as they discovered dead though I keep the crossed out link posted in order to provide continuity of narrative.

Most of the same links are broadcast through various online channels such as through the Wilkes-Barre Rail Twitter feed or its Facebook group.

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