READING, Pa. - On Thursday, Montgomery County officials will decide whether to create an authority to help restore passenger trains from Reading to Philadelphia.

The county hosted a hearing on the idea on Wednesday. Berks will hold a similar hearing Thursday, and Chester County's is next week about a plan to establish the Schuylkill River Passenger Rail Authority.

The Authority would help restore a passenger rail line between Berks County and Philadelphia, with stops in Montgomery and Chester counties. Each county would have to vote in favor of creating it.

Many in support of it say it would alleviate traffic on the roads.

"When I read on Facebook that this was going to be an opportunity to have a railroad, near us instead of having to drive into Norristown, very supportive of it," one person said in a public comment. 

Others in favor say they believe it would be an economic boost, creating jobs and bringing people to the area.

A number of people told the Montgomery County Commissioners they were disappointed when rail lines closed down before, and they're hoping it'll lead to more than what's proposed.

"We just hope that besides Amtrak this will eventually lead to restoration of SEPTA service back to Reading," said Douglas Diehl, Tri-State Transit Center.

However, one person against the idea says he's skeptical that the whole proposal would ever happen.

"This railroad has been on the drawing boards since the 1990s. Why build this now? If it was feasible, it would have been done years ago," said a Limerick Twp. resident. 

The commissioners also heard concerns about potential noise from trains. Another person is concerned about what's already in place.

"How could you run these passenger trains to interfere with the importance of running these heavy freight trains that Norfolk Southern operates," said one person during public comment. 

The Montgomery County Commissioners are set to vote on authorizing the authority on Thursday.

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