New rail line proposed in Chester County

January 2, 2008 4:03:26 PM PST
It's only in the idea stage, but some people think Chester County is growing so fast that a new commuter rail line is needed.

An unused Norfolk Southern Freight line could some day host some sort of slick passenger service, linking picturesque Phoenixville and the Great Valley Corporate Center.

The idea of new commuter service cutting across Chester County may sound far fetches, but at least one man believes it is possible.

"You have to take the first step with ideas and not let a bunch of people say nay all the time," said Barry Cassidy of the Community Development Corporation.

Cassidy expects naysayers. His agency is spear-heading the study of using the meandering seven mile freight line to connect his borough with the big employment centers along the 202 corridor.

Cassidy sees it in quality of life terms as a way to move people without adding to road congestion.

"Where we are able to secure more traffic for retail and restaurants as well as preserve the way of life out in the country," said Cassidy.

At a local coffee house and down the street at an upscale boutique, the talk of train service played well on several levels such as commuting and quality of life.

"That's really important, especially to people who live here and want community to thrive, but don't want to give up beautiful settings," said shop owner Karen Phelps.

But questions persist. Will there be a big enough market to support commuter trains? Are the tracks safe enough for passengers? Where would the money come from?

Cassidy concedes there are many questions, but he hopes to have some answers by late spring.