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PRESS RELEASE

LOCAL GROUP SEEKS TO RESTORE R-3 TRAIN SERVICE

A two-county petition drive has been launched to urge Chester and Delaware County officials to encourage SEPTA to reopen passenger train service to West Chester on the R-3 line. The Middletown Township Land Conservancy, a volunteer organization based in Delaware County, is forming a coalition of individuals and groups to demonstrate the need for restoring train service now between Philadelphia and the ever-expanding western suburbs.

In 1984, after more than one hundred years of service, and because of dwindling ridership on the line, SEPTA discontinued the West Chester Local and made Elwyn the terminus of the R-3 line. In the ensuing 20 years, a great deal of development has occurred in and around the Borough of West Chester. The right-of-way and the track from Elwyn to West Chester are still in place, with 99% of the track still being used, at least occasionally, by the West Chester Historic Railroad, the Glen Mills Quarry, or by SEPTA for training engineers and crew.

An article in the Philadelphia Inquirer on October 31, 2003 compared the per person passenger subsidy of various suburban Philadelphia rail lines. Interestingly, the line producing the highest revenue and the line nearest to the break-even point was the R-3. A survey conducted in 2000 by SEPTA consultant Vollmer Associates, estimated that additional daily ridership would exceed three thousand, if service were restored to West Chester.

There are good economic reasons for refurbishing the whole line now. Restoration of train service to West Chester would serve to significantly reduce traffic congestion on Baltimore Pike and other arteries near West Chester. This would also provide an alternate means of travel in the face of increasing gasoline prices. It is not economically feasible, nor is it practical, to continue widening roadways to accommodate an ever-increasing number of automobiles. Dedication to revamping our mass transit system in Pennsylvania is long overdue.

If you are interested in helping with the petition drive, contact Susan at (610) 565-4903 or email tgsg@erols.com