Chester County approves Schuylkill River Passenger Rail Authority

For Berks and some of Pottstown, it’s an equity issue too. We need to be able to move people in an efficient manner so that they can get to jobs, they can get to shopping, they don’t have to own cars. So I mean, this is just such a win-win for all three counties,” Moskowitz said.

As far as the specifics of the plan, the line will also use a piece of the Norfolk Southern industrial line. While it initially plans to serve Reading, Phoenixville, Pottstown, and Philadelphia, Moskowitz said that it is possible that it could expand to include stops at places like Valley Forge Park.

And although SEPTA will not partner in the initial stages with SRPRA, it is very possible that the new railway will use SEPTA’s line when it gets to Norristown.

“Which means we have to have a dual motor engine, one that can handle the industrial line and then convert to electric,” Moskowitz said.

Scott France is the director of the Montgomery County Planning Commission and another member of the new transit authority.

“The best word to describe this whole process so far has been collaborative. Chester County has been a great partner, as well as Berks County,” France said.

He added that there were points over the last few years where people did not view the project as viable.

“It never was really viewed as achievable. There were a lot of efforts, but this seemed to be the moment where, if it were going to happen, the opportunity was now,” France said. “We heard an overwhelming percentage of positive responses during both the public hearing and leading up to it. And when we’ve reached out to communities … it’s just always been very encouraging to hear how much people want this rail service to come back, and how they think it would benefit their communities.”

France is excited for Pottstown and what a rail service could do for the borough. He believes that businesses could see that portion of the county as a more attractive place to get started in.

“We’re really actually very excited that Pottstown has a number of our disadvantaged communities in the county, and bringing service to those people that haven’t had it before is really another strong point of this project,” France said.

The next meeting for the committee-turned-authority is going to be at the end of June.

Now that it is a formal operation, SRPRA can accept funds. Moskowitz said the authority recently received a grant to fund a study with the help of U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan.

There is still no timeline for the project, but the public can expect more details regarding SRPRA’s plans during the last week of June.

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