BY JILL WHALEN
Council members are “all aboard” a plan to bring passenger rail service back to the borough.
On Tuesday, the council approved an agreement with the Reading, Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad to construct a train platform at the Tamaqua Train Station. According to Councilman Brian Connely, the platform will cost the borough $36,000. Already, he said, the borough has received offers of private pledges toward the project.
The station was built in 1874 by the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, but regular passenger train service ceased in the 1960s. And while trains have picked up people for special events over the past two decades, council President David Mace said elderly and young passengers often have trouble boarding and disembarking the train.
“They currently can’t unload passengers from the trains because of the uneven condition of the existing grade,” Mace explained.
The train platform will have an even surface graded to track level. It will be covered in macadam and packed gravel, and surrounded by a decorative fence.
The project won’t affect the outdoor summer concert series held at the train station. It also won’t impact decorative bricks that are in place, Connely said.
The Port Clinton-based railroad will handle all the construction.
Larry Padora, who owns the 130-year-old Padora’s Italian Bakery, and John Ross, who owns the Tamaqua Station Restaurant inside the train station, began discussing the possibility of passenger trains with railroad officials last year and eventually brought the idea to council. The two believed it would be a way to increase tourism in the area.
The rail company frequently runs freight on its tracks through the area. It has passenger service in Reading, Port Clinton, Schuylkill Haven and Pottsville, but recently stopped service in Jim Thorpe through its sister line, the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway.
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