Rail authority publishes 30th anniversary booklet on ‘all things railroad’ in 8 counties

The SEDA-Council of Governments Joint Rail Authority has published the booklet “Preserving Rail Freight in Central Pennsylvania for 30 Years,” commemorating the 30th anniversary of its beginnings in the early 1980s.

An electronic version of the booklet is available at www.sedacograil.org.

More than a historic review, however, the booklet encompasses all things related to rail in the eight central Pennsylvania counties served by the authority. And, in addition to highlighting history, the booklet looks to the future of the region’s rail freight system.

A photo of a Lycoming Valley Railroad locomotive graces the cover of the anniversary booklet.

There are write-ups and photos for each of the system’s six rail lines, listing customers served by the line and the commodities they ship or receive. Special projects are featured, too, particularly those carried out over the last five years by the Rail Authority and the North Shore Railroad Co. North Shore, under contract to the authority, provides service on the six rail lines.

Featured projects include Pleasant Gap’s Whiterock Quarry Track; a million dollar upgrade at Berwick’s industrial complex; intermodal facilities at Williamsport’s Newberry rail yard; and reconstruction of the White Deer railroad bridge, which enabled rail service to be resumed in the Allenwood area.

A federal grant of $11 million has guided much of the authority’s activity in recent years, and a summary of the grant and the projects which have resulted is included in the anniversary booklet.

Rail yards have been enlarged and bridges refurbished. A rail terminal was added near Northumberland and a frac sand transload terminal at Newberry in Williamsport.

With an eye on the future, the booklet highlights the economics of “going green,” and the impact of natural gas exploration on the region’s rail system. There also are brief pieces on the World Bank’s case study of the authority, and the growing, widespread popularity of rail excursions for the general public.

The history of the Rail Authority and the region’s rail system weaves throughout the booklet. Key events are highlighted in a special timeline, and the back page is devoted to a roster of the authority’s all-time board of directors.

The authority published a similar booklet for its 25th anniversary five years ago.

While no one knows for sure about 2018, the booklet concludes with the assurance that rail shippers in the region “…can continue to expect, and receive, world-class rail service…”