Commissioners Endorse Reading-to-Philly Rail Plans

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – Plans by a Berks County organization promoting commuter rail service between Reading and Philadelphia, and suggesting trains could be operating as early as 2025, received an unexpected boost Thursday night (Aug. 27, 2020) from the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners. Its members unanimously asked township Manager Ed Wagner to write a letter in support of the proposal.

Drafting the letter was not on the board agenda, but a request for backing the rail service was raised by township resident and former Commissioner Tom Troutman. He’d read July news articles and seen television stories about the effort, Troutman explained, and thought commissioners should get behind it.

Berks Alliance, a Reading and Berks County community development group whose membership includes some of that area’s largest employers, has said economic development would accompany resumption of long-abandoned rail service between the two metro regions. Its estimated value, an Alliance executive said, could represent a value of more than $1 billion.

Its current plans would include stops in Reading, Pottstown, Royersford, Phoenixville, SEPTA’s transportation center in Norristown, and four locations in Philadelphia, the executive told WFMZ-TV News. One driver in the effort is construction of the new Drexel University College of Medicine at Tower Health, set to open in the Reading suburb of Wyomissing for the 2021-2022 school year.

Although township commissioners agreed with the concept – their letter probably will be mailed next week, Wagner indicated – they also expressed skepticism that, like several similar proposals offered over more than a decade, the plans would go anywhere.

Commissioner Ray Lopez, who in his former role as Pottstown borough manager was a participant in earlier commuter train discussions, cited “a multitude of obstacles over the years” that prevented success.

Photo by Manfred Richter via Pixabay, used under license