Who We Are
Western Pennsylvanians for Passenger Rail (WPPR) is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2011. Since 2011, we have worked to ensure that the state of Pennsylvania assumed management of the Pennsylvanian, the train service between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, as required under PRIIA, and to advocate for additional train service on the Pennsylvanian.
We are interested in passenger rail’s ability to connect western Pennsylvanians with other nearby cities and regions and reduce their dependence on automobiles, alleviating climate change and improving air quality for all.
- Mark Spada, President
- Lucinda Beattie, Vice President
- Michael Alexander, Treasurer
- David Wohlwill, Secretary
- Rich Boyer, Member
What We Do
We work to generate public and governmental support for more passenger rail services in western Pennsylvania. We do this primarily through publicizing the values and benefits of passenger rail service. Passenger rail is today the most environmentally friendly way to travel inter-city distances. Passenger rail is affordable to those who don’t own cars and those who choose to travel distances without driving. Passenger rail connects the communities along the Pennsylvanian’s corridor and enhances economic development opportunities for these communities. Passenger rail reduces traffic congestion.
Because the rail lines west of Harrisburg are owned by a national freight company and the rail line is under 750 miles long, we work with three large entities which each have different requirements and procedures: Amtrak; PennDOT, our state DOT; and Norfolk Southern. Amtrak provides the passenger rail service on the line. Norfolk Southern owns the rail line which is their premiere freight rail line. PennDOT’s Multimodal Department manages the Pennsylvanian as one of its state-managed rail lines. We work to build solid and positive relationships with each of them.
Our major accomplishments to date
- Incorporated as non-profit in 2013.
- Mobilized public support to prevent the cancellation of the Pennsylvanian, the daily one train between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, in 2013.
- Conducted feasibility study in 2014 of having three daily trains between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg and published report, On Track to Accessibility Increasing Service of the Pennsylvanian: Benefits and Cost.
- Mobilized county and economic development agencies in the Pennsylvanian corridor to endorse additional service on the Pennsylvanian.
- Marshalled support in PA legislature for House Resolution 1103 which would have funded a study of the necessary rail improvements to support additional passenger rail service.
- Advocated with PennDOT’s Multimodal Department for additional passenger rail service.
Our Twenty Year Vision
In 2020 WPPR created a 20-year vision plan for passenger rail development in western Pennsylvania. This is our vision for passenger rail in Pennsylvania in 2040.
“By 2040 passenger rail reemerges as a vital transportation mode throughout the state of Pennsylvania because of its efficiency, affordability, comfort and environmental friendliness. Every city and town of at least 15,000 residents (including its surrounding communities) has access to a robust network of intercity public ground transportation options.
"This network includes at least six trains a day in each direction between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, thus providing the two major employment centers in the state with a robust and affordable transportation link. Feeder buses link cities and towns that are not on a passenger rail route to passenger rail. Philadelphia itself continues to be a major hub for intercity and commuter passenger rail service.
"Rail links between Allentown and Philadelphia, Allentown and the New York City area, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Philadelphia, and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and the New York City area have been reestablished with ample bus connections connecting major cities outside the state, such as Morgantown, WV and Columbus, OH, to Pennsylvania passenger rail. The Pennsylvania Department of Public Transportation and Rail manages this network of public ground intercity transportation systems.”
How would we accomplish this?