4641 Yates Road
Bensalem, PA 19020
September 10, 2005
Mr. Allen Biehler
Secretary of Transportation
400 North Street
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Dear Mr. Biehler:
As you may or may not know at this point in time, Amtrak intends to abandon service to Pennsylvania’s Cornwells Heights station, possibly as soon as next month. I have been organizing resistance to this sudden shutdown and have been seeking ways to avoid severely damaging the lives of those who believed Amtrak was in Bensalem, PA, to stay, and so built their careers commuting to New York City on the assumption of its permanence. I run the website www.savecornwellsheights.com to help save the station and its ridership.
I have heard persistent rumors from people who remember the 1997 initiation of Amtrak service at Cornwells Heights, saying that they believe Amtrak may be in violation of the original contract by which they agreed to maintain service at Cornwells Heights in exchange for many tens or even hundreds of millions of Pennsylvania tax dollars earmarked for upgrades and subsidies on the Philadelphia-to-Harrisburg portion of the Keystone line. Could you please check to see whether Amtrak is trying to take the money and run, without fulfilling its legal obligations to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania?
Also, if push comes to shove and Amtrak still hightails it out of town, please consider giving up even just one of Pennsylvania’s 11 daily subsidized Amtrak Keystone trains that makes the run from Harrisburg to New York City right through the Cornwells Heights station. A single such train, properly rescheduled on the Northeast Corridor, could be enough to save the Cornwells Heights commuting community from destruction.
I am also enclosing, for your further information, a copy of a letter I am simultaneously sending to Ms. Faye Moore, the general manager of SEPTA. I hope that you can find a way to work with SEPTA and New Jersey Transit and Amtrak and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission to come up with a good solution to the problem of Amtrak trying to pull out of Cornwells Heights. My first suggestion would be to keep Amtrak servicing the station; else find an alternative that continues to preserve a timely and sufficiently comfortable commute into New York City for the commuters at Cornwells Heights.
As you make progress, and as I am able to find out about it, I intend to publicly report it on the website so that all concerned, especially the riders, can see what a good job you will be doing on their behalf.
Please keep me posted as best you can. By the time you receive this letter, a copy should already have been publicly posted on www.savecornwellsheights.com.
I thank you in advance for your assistance.