Mon. Aug 15th, 2022

Train service long used to be a staple for West Chester and its surrounding community. In 1986, SEPTA shut down the West Chester train line, which had serviced riders to and from Philadelphia with 18 daily trains. Although local residents have always yearned for revitalizing the service, Borough government had not had a concerted effort to restore the service. This policy changed earlier this year, with the creation of an ad-hoc commission focused on restoring rail service to the West Chester borough.

The West Chester rail station was originally opened in 1875 by the West Chester & Philadelphia Railroad. As the main stop on the Pennsylvania Railroad’s West Chester line, the station transitioned to be under SEPTA’s control and ultimately became a part of the R3 route. Due to deteriorating track conditions, SEPTA decided in September 1986 to discontinue service to West Chester. SEPTA decided to focus resources on the nearby station in Exton, a part of the Paoli/Thorndale line, and on its Route 104 bus line.

West Chester’s station saw new light in 1997 when a private company, the West Chester Railroad, began operating tourist rides between Glen Mills and West Chester. The company currently operates Santa rides during the holiday season and offers train rides for birthday parties or other special occasions.

Created earlier this year, the Rail Service Restoration Committee had its first meeting in July, and meets once every month. Currently, the Committee has been seeking suggestions and comments from local residents who would be using the service, but also from local businesses and organizations who may benefit from additional incoming foot traffic from the station.

The restoration of the West Chester line has not been confirmed by SEPTA officials, but it is something that they are actively considering. It is the job of the Committee to gather local interest, flesh out every detail about what type of train, electric, hybrid, or diesel, where to put the station, where should the line actually go, provide data to SEPTA about ridership potential, and to perhaps raise interest from private investors to provide the necessary capital that may be necessary to actually get this project going.

This project is considered a great idea by many individuals, groups, and businesses in the Borough and surrounding communities.

To learn more about the railroad project, head over to the Borough of West Chester’s website at http://www.west-chester.com/

Kyle Phillips is an intern for the Mayor at West Chester, PA. He can be reached at KP759844@wcupa.edu.

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