Amtrak exec: Lehigh Valley passenger rail service is ‘doable,’ but bigger push needed

December 8, 2015

By Jennifer Marangos,

An Amtrak official said recently it’s a mystery to him why the Lehigh Valley doesn’t have passenger rail service.

Joe McHugh, senior vice president of government affairs and corporate communications with Amtrak, spoke as part of a panel at the Renew Lehigh Valley “Summit for Smart Growth and Sustainable Communities” held on Friday at the Renaissance Hotel in Allentown.Website Insert New Passenger Train Service copy

The Allentown native, who has been with Amtrak for more than 21 years, told the crowd that the rebirth of passenger rail in the Lehigh Valley would definitely help to shape the financial future of the region.

“Everywhere we go, economic development follows,” he said. “If you are looking for a different way to revitalize a downtown, rail service brings it.”

McHugh said that a Lehigh Valley passenger rail service is something the region could make happen if it were to unite behind such a goal and “push it” through friends in high places, alluding to a governor who is very “pro-rail” and a Lehigh Valley senator who is on the appropriations committee.

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