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Pennsylvania Rail Plan in Trouble

October 26, 1999

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s biggest expansion plan in decades, linking Philadelphia with its western and northern suburbs, is being threatened by Norfolk Southern Corp.’s objection to allowing the company’s passenger cars share its freight track.

The Virginia-based Norfolk Southern also will not allow light-rail trains in its right-of-way beyond Norristown, company president Craig Lewis announced Monday.

Plans for SEPTA’s new rail service, the Schuylkill Valley Metro line, include a 62-mile route used to connect Center City to Reading, with stops in Limerick, Phoenixville and Pottstown, and a spur to King of Prussia.

The service, which could cost more than $1 billion, is meant to relieve congestion in the city’s fastest-growing suburbs in Chester and Montgomery counties.

SEPTA is hoping to complete a $75 million study and make a final decision on technology and routing by the beginning of the year. Federal funding would then be sought and SEPTA hopes to cut the ribbon on the system by 2006.

SEPTA assistant general manager Bernard Cohen said he was confident an agreement could be worked out.

``We have a lot of options on the table,″ he said. ``We don’t believe there is any reason why we can’t reach an agreement to operate passenger service in the corridor.″

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