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Train Wreck’s Timely Lesson

Disruption of railroad commuter service on the Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad, because of train derailement near Paoli, teaches a lesson of special significance at a time when efforts are being made locally and nationally to preserve rail transit service.

Ponder this picture of confusion and hardship. Thousands of people residing in Main Line communities beyong Bryn Mawr awoke Friday morning to discover that the trains they usually ride to their work in the city were not operating because freight cars were scattered across the tracks. Despite emergency moves to fill the breach with special buses and shuttle trains most commuters were not only seriously inconvenienced but considerably late in getting to their jobs.

Now, consider that the wreck stopped service on just a part of one commuter line of one railroad servcing Philadelphia. Imagine, if you can, the chaos that would exist if all the service on all the lines were disrupted - not for a day, but permanently. Envision, if you will, the crisis that would be created if all those extra busues and all the added auto traffic traveled not just to Bryn Mawr, but into the center of Philadelphia - and the swarms of additional vehicles came not merely from a few communities along one commuter line but from the entire length of all the lines.

Anyone who can make a mental image of the mess that would result from such a situation should have no trouble understanding the desirability - in fact, the necessity, of coordinated and cooperative action to rescue the railroad commuter lines from impending deterioration and disaster.

Mutual endeavor by Philadephia and the suburban counties - including strangely reluctant Delaware county - is essential. Also urgently important is enactment by Congress of a bill that would provide Federal assistance to those who help themselves solve rail transit problems.

Senators presently conducting hearings on the transit aid bill in Washington ought to weigh thoughtfully the lessons of the Paoli train wreck. So should Delaware county officials as they prepare for hearings on the proposal to join other counties of the Philadelphia metropolitan area in a program to keep the commuter trains rolling.

Philadelphia Inquirer 4/28/1962