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A study will look into feasibility of adding passenger train service downstate

Delaware Public Media

Federal funding will allow the state to conduct a study about adding rail service in Delaware below the canal.

Delaware’s Congressional Delegation announced a $500,000 grant from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will fund the study to see if rail service can be added from the Northeast Corridor to downstate.

Service would go through Middletown and Dover to eastern Maryland.

Delaware Transit Corporation CEO John Sisson says the study will look at various issues.

"Is there the density to support it, is there the demand to support the investment, and as you do that the tracks that run down the state are much different than what Amtrak uses. Amtrak has grade separated high-speed rail lines where trains can speed 100 mph. These tracks running through Delaware are at grade with grade crossings and things, so you're really not traveling at those same types of speed under the current infrastructure," said Sisson.

In addition to rail infrastructure questions, the study will also examine the cost of running trains in the First State,

"I can't imagine the study would take more than a year, but I haven't backed down yet with our team really to nail that down,” said Sisson. “So, maybe this time next year, a little later we should have a study completed. Hopefully, definitely by I'll say June of 25 we should have something finalized."

Sisson notes the last study to look into the feasibility of adding downstate rail service was 10 years ago, and he says this is an issue that always comes up from residents and lawmakers.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.