READING, Pa. — Restoring passenger practice service between Studying and Philadelphia has been a imaginative and prescient of many in Berks County for the previous few a long time. Now, we all know that Amtrak shares that imaginative and prescient.
The nation’s passenger practice supplier revealed Wednesday what it calls Connects US, a plan to develop rail service over the subsequent 15 years by including new routes and enhancing present throughout the nation.
“Amtrak has a daring imaginative and prescient to deliver energy-efficient, world-class intercity rail service to as much as 160 new communities throughout the nation, as we additionally put money into our fleet and stations throughout the U.S.,” mentioned Invoice Flynn, Amtrak’s CEO.
A type of new routes, in response to Amtrak’s Join US map, would hyperlink Studying and Philadelphia by rail for the primary time since SEPTA stopped working passenger trains in 1981.
Amtrak mentioned it has met with stakeholders throughout the U.S., together with state officers mayors, companies, to establish their native wants and expectations. The rail supplier didn’t say whether or not it met with anybody in Studying and Berks County.
The Berks County commissioners are already exploring the restoration of passenger practice service with their counterparts in Chester and Montgomery counties, having shaped a tri-county passenger rail committee in February.
Commissioner Christian Leinbach; Pamela Shupp Menet, the county’s financial improvement director; and Jim Gerlach, the president and CEO of the Better Studying Chamber Alliance and a former congressman, symbolize Berks County on the committee.
What can be totally different with Amtrak working the trains, nevertheless, is that the rail line would hyperlink Studying to the nationwide rail system, whereas the present proposal would primarily serve commuters.
A research concluded by PennDOT earlier this 12 months estimated the whole price of restoring practice service to be round $818 million. The research used the belief of a 12-stop, 59-mile line connecting Philly and a few of the Fundamental Line to Pottstown, Birdsboro and, lastly, Studying’s Franklin Road station. It estimated ridership may very well be between three,400 and 6,400 riders every single day.
Berks Alliance, which has been a proponent of the venture, has mentioned a rail line between Studying and Philadelphia might deliver a $1-billion financial enhance to the area.
Amtrak’s announcement got here on the heels of President Joe Biden unveiling a $2-trillion infrastructure proposal throughout a go to to Pittsburgh on Wednesday. The administration has designated $80 billion of that cash particularly for rail.
“With this federal funding, Amtrak will create jobs and enhance fairness throughout cities, areas, and the complete nation – and we’re able to ship,” Flynn mentioned. “America wants a rail community that gives frequent, dependable, sustainable and equitable practice service. Now’s our time, let’s make rail the answer.”