Coun­cil backs pas­sen­ger rail plan

The Phoenix - - FRONT PAGE - By Evan Brandt ebrandt@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @PottstownNews on Twit­ter

PHOENIXVILLE » Bor­ough Coun­cil voted unan­i­mously Tues­day night to sup­port the ef­forts of Mayor Peter Urscheler’s task force to re­turn pas­sen­ger rail ser­vice to Phoenixville.

The vote came af­ter con­sul­tant Thomas Fraw­ley pre­sented his find­ings on the ques­tion which, sim­ply put, would al­low a “demon­stra­tion project” of three trains each morn­ing and three trains each evening for a start-up cost of about $15 mil­lion.

First pre­sented to the task force on July 26, and sub­se­quently to coun­cil’s in­fra­struc­ture com­mit­tee, Fraw­ley con­cludes there are “no tech­no­log­i­cal ob­sta­cles to a demon­stra­tion project or per­ma­nent (rail) ser­vice” re­turn­ing to Phoenixville, Schuylkill Town­ship and King of Prus­sia.

Which is not to say it will be easy.

First of all, Fraw­ley said, SEPTA and Nor­folk South­ern Rail­road, which owns the tracks, have to be on board with the project. He said the task force has al­ready met wirth SEPTA and has an ap­point­ment to meet with Nor­folk South­ern next week.

Then there’s the is­sue of sta­tions, as in there aren’t any.

Frawly iden­ti­fied three po­ten­tial sta­tion lo­ca­tions in Phoenx­iville, two in Schuylkill

Town­ship and four along the Schuylkill River near to King of Prus­sia, the last of which would re­quire shut­tle buses to the of­fice parks in the area to be vi­able.

Fraw­ley’s report iden­ti­fies the pos­si­ble Phoenixville sta­tion lo­ca­tions as the in­dus­trial com­plex at 41 S. 2nd Ave.; Holy Ghost Ortho­dox Catholic Church or “rail­road prop­erty at Bridge Street.”

In Schuylkill Town­ship, the iden­ti­fied po­ten­tial rail sta­tions are at the Val­ley Forge Sewer Au­thor­ity; or “rail­road prop­erty” south of Pawl­ings Road.

The po­ten­tial King of Prus­sia sta­tions are iden­ti­fied in the study as two lo­ca­tions in Port Kennedy; the bridge con­struc­tion stag­ing site, where the Route 422 bridge crosses the Schuylkill River; or the “Man­cill Mill site” fur­ther down­stream.

Park­ing will be an im­por­tant fac­tor at all sta­tions, be­cause 85 per­cent of those who ride the train get to the sta­tion by car, although that per­cent­age is lower in Phoenixville, where more peo­ple can walk or ride bikes to the sta­tion, Fraw­ley said.

Over­all, Fraw­ley’s oneway trip es­ti­mates show 54 rides to Norristown, 459 to Sub­ur­ban Sta­tion, 19 to Tem­ple Univer­sity, 229 to Jef­fer­son, 99 to 30th St. Sta­tion and 57 to King of Prus­sia. Over­all, about 900 peo­ple would ride daily one-way, Fraw­ley said.

In ad­di­tion to the $15 mil­lion start-up, an­nual main­te­nance would be about $2.7 mil­lion, said Fraw­ley, a num­ber that does not in­clude leas­ing space for the sta­tions — which would be ba­sic plat­forms — and “rolling stock,” or pas­sen­ger cars.

Lo­cal de­vel­oper DeMutis, who spent about $40,000 to fund the study, said 1,800 daily rid­ers is enough to jus­tify at least the demon­stra­tion project.

“I wish you luck where oth­ers have failed be­fore you, as I would dearly love to see train ser­vice re­turn to Phoenixville,” said Coun­cil Pres­i­dent James Ko­valeski.

EVAN BRANDT — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Rail­road con­sul­tant Thomas Fraw­ley ad­dresses Phoenixville Bor­ough Coun­cil dur­ing Tues­day’s meet­ing. Be­hind him, is lo­cal de­vel­oper Manny DeMutis, who paid for the study on re­turn­ing pas­sen­ger rail to Phoenixville.

EVAN BRANDT — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Manny DeMutis, who funded the $40,000 rail­road study, speaks to Phoenixville Bor­ough Coun­cil Tues­day.

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