The Greater Reading Chamber Alliance (GRCA) Thursday gave its support for the creation of the Schuylkill River Passenger Rail Authority which would work to bring passenger rail service back to the area after four decades.
“GRCA is a proud supporter of the efforts to return passenger rail from Reading to Philadelphia and beyond,” said Jim Gerlach, president and CEO of GRCA. “The positive economic and social impact of this once-in-a-generation project for Berks County and the rest of the region cannot be understated.”
The creation of the Schuylkill River Passenger Rail Authority is the important next step in that vision becoming a reality, he said.
The Berks Alliance-funded TEMS study indicated reestablishing passenger rail is not only feasible, but also economically viable and environmentally beneficial.
Gerlach said the study showed passenger rail will reduce vehicle travel along the highway corridors by 5%, generate nearly $1.4 billion of regional income, more than 28,000-person-years of work, over $1.1 billion in increased property values and new development, and nearly $1 billion in local, state and federal tax revenues over the next 30 years.
“Reading and the surrounding area are on the rise with new development projects already initiated or in the planning stages,” he said. “The passenger rail project will unlock opportunities for area residents, including access to new job markets as well as opening Berks County employers to a new pipeline of potential employees.
“Returning rail service to Reading and the greater community has been a dream ever since the last train left over four decades. Through the current efforts in Berks County, in conjunction with leaders in Chester and Montgomery Counties and community partners, it may soon be achieved,” he added.