Preparation of the Service Development Plan (SDP) is an essential element of participation in the Corridor Identification Program of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the detailed application requirements for which are expected to be released in early December 2022. The Schuylkill River Passenger Rail Authority (SRPRA or the Authority) submitted the mandatory Expression of Interest letter in July and is planning to submit its application in accordance with the FRA requirements and deadline once they are announced. In anticipation of the application process, the Authority has engaged Transportation for America (T4A) to assist the Authority with its application preparation and potentially with preparation of its SDP. Upon acceptance of the SRPRA application by FRA, the Authority will quickly advance its SDP to completion for review by FRA.
The SDP is a business plan, operating plan and capital plan, that documents the investment case for a proposed passenger rail service. The SDP must demonstrate operational feasibility, financial feasibility, and value and merit of the proposed passenger rail service. The FRA provides a structure within which an SDP must be organized. The structure includes the following components:
The process of developing the SDP is iterative. The Authority will prepare an initial version of the SDP and will update it as new information becomes available as a result of work being performed both within the SDP preparation process (such as Conceptual Engineering) and outside the process (such as documentation required under the National Environmental Policy Act or NEPA). As an example, during operations analysis, results may be found that change the infrastructure improvements needed to support the proposed service, which would in-turn affect capital and O&M costs.
As illustrated in the timeline below, the preparation of the initial version of the Service Development Plan generally overlaps with the Conceptual Design and Engineering stage, while subsequent updates of the SDP take place as needed during the Preliminary Design and Engineering, Final Design and Engineering, and Construction stages of the project.