Save Cornwells Heights


Wednesday, October 5, 2005


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New Cornwells Heights Train Schedule Expected As Of  October 31, 2005


As of today, Amtrak’s Internet website shows no trains servicing Cornwells Heights from October 31st onwards.  Nevertheless, there will still be trains running.  I have been informed by Amtrak’s top brass that they expect service to and from Cornwells Heights to run on the following schedule (subject, of course, to change) on and after Monday, October 31st:


From Cornwells Heights to New York City

Train #630 leaves CWH at 6:15 and arrives at Penn Station at 7:17 (62 minutes)

Train #180 leaves CWH at 7:43 and arrives at Penn Station at 8:43 (60 minutes)


From New York City to Cornwells Heights

Train #193 leaves Penn Station at 5:39 and arrives at CWH at 6:38 (59 minutes)

Train #633 leaves Penn Station at 6:09 and arrives at CWH at 7:23 (74 minutes)


All trains stop at Newark.  Some skip Trenton.  Most skip Princeton Junction, although train #633 in the evening may stop there.  Train #630 is expected to change its run to approximately a 6:30-leaving-to-7:32-arrival schedule after track work on the Harrisburg line is completed some unknown number of months down the line.


This is not as robust a schedule as I believed we would have when I left the meeting with Congressman Fitzpatrick and Amtrak’s Mr. David Gunn on September 15th.  I had been under the impression that our 8:11 a.m. Keystone train into New York would still be on the schedule, but it is possible that there was an honest misunderstanding as to exactly which and how many trains would run in the morning.  In any event, there will be a train 28 minutes earlier than the 8:11, which is much less inconvenient than having no train at all.


There was also an understanding that service to Cornwells Heights would be substantially maintained at least at the same level as what it currently enjoys.  Dropping from five afternoon and evening trains down to two seems, instead, like a service reduction.  There may be more layovers in Trenton for $3 SEPTA rides in our immediate future.


The new schedule appears to be one that supports minimum needs for station survival.  Given the recent fare hike, the near closure of the station, and the new schedule which reduces Cornwells Heights to the lowest train count in its history, growing station ridership may still be a challenge.


Having handed the Clocker trains over to New Jersey Transit (effective 10/31), Amtrak now has fewer trains to choose from when trying to provide Cornwells Heights with service.  I will continue to work on the schedule and fare problems, but for now it appears we will have two trains a day each way and monthly ticket prices of $870 coming soon.


If at all possible, buy your monthlies out through September, 2006, at the current price of $555 no later than October 15th to save nearly $3,000 in the coming year.


– Rick



[The articles below were originally posted on 9/28/2005.]


Amtrak to Hike Cornwells Heights Monthly Pass Cost 57%


Amtrak announced yesterday that it would increase the cost of a monthly pass from Cornwells Heights to New York City from its present $555 to approximately $712 as of October 16th, and $870 as of February (most likely February 16th, but possibly earlier).  The ultimate rise to $870 will mean an extra annual outlay of $3780 per Cornwells Heights commuter using a monthly pass.  Another reprieve from the hikes, in the short term, may not be likely.


How You Can Protect Yourself From the Increase


Amtrak allows monthly passes to be purchased for up to 11 months in advance at current rates.  Therefore, up until October 16th, it should be possible to make advance purchases of all monthly passes needed for commuting through September, 2006.  The cost of buying 10 extra passes next month, in addition to the November pass, would be $5,550.  Monthly passes purchased but not used may be turned back in before the month in which they were to be used, and Amtrak refunds 90% of the purchase price under such circumstances.


What About Next Year?


Trenton commuters can still get monthly New Jersey Transit passes for $320.  A monthly Amtrak pass for the 104 miles of commute from Philadelphia to Harrisburg is currently $299, and will likely rise to only $469.  Commuters using New Jersey Transit trains to commute from little Campbell Hall in upstate New York, almost the same distance as our commute, pay $279.  Cornwells Heights, at $870, and Philadelphia itself, are in an odd commuting fare warp zone.  It is possible that the warp can be corrected within the next year with continued political effort.


More News And Commentary To Come…


There is much more that can and should be said about the impending Amtrak fare hike and the bizarre fare warp zone being experienced by New York City commuters south of the Delaware River.  More will be written here soon.


– Rick