Skip to main content

FAQ

You have questions, we have the FACTS. Quick and to-the-point answers for many common questions regarding the return of passenger rail to the Reading, Pottstown and Phoenixville region can be found below.

Why was the Schuylkill River Passenger Rail Authority Created?

The Schuylkill River Passenger Rail Authority (SRPRA) was created to serve as the regional coordinating body between Berks, Chester, and Montgomery Counties, with equal representation from each county. The SRPRA oversees and approves the execution of necessary contracts, the selection of the service operators, and seeks out federal funding to support the passenger rail service.

What are the benefits of restoring rail between Reading and Philadelphia?

There are various benefits for restoring rail service between Reading and Philadelphia, including increased mobility for travelers, reduced traffic congestion, lower transportation costs, improved air quality in the region, economic development opportunities, and equity and economic empowerment. The impacts on all communities that will be served by a Reading to Philadelphia train line are immense.

Will SRPRA make use of the previous studies that explored restoration of passenger rail in the Reading to Philadelphia Corridor?

Yes. SRPRA is fully aware of the various previous studies, and has been leveraging lessons learned from those studies in advancing the current project. Not all parts of previous studies are useful, because of differences in mode (passenger rail versus light rail), differences in type of service (intercity versus commuter rail), and differences in geographic scope (Phoenixville-Philadelphia versus Reading-Philadelphia). SRPRA is definitely not reinventing the wheel, but there is still a substantial amount of new work to do despite multiple previous studies. Examples include computer-based operations simulation to help identify infrastructure improvements needed to improve capacity and flexibility, and to support negotiations with host railroads such as Norfolk Southern, and detailed design of the agreed improvements to track, signals and structures. As a reference, SRPRA has posted some of the previous studies below.

What is the process for restoring passenger rail service to the region?

The restoration of rail passenger service in the Reading – Philadelphia segment of the Reading – Philadelphia – New York Corridor is a complex process that requires the commitment and coordination of multiple stakeholders at the local, state, and federal level. Click the link below to learn more about the steps involved, the status and the work that is being done to restore passenger rail service to the Reading, Pottstown and Phoenixville region.

What is the proposed route and stops for the passenger service?

The exact route is not yet determined, but the proposed first-phase of the new passenger rail service will be from Reading to Philadelphia with stops in Pottstown and Phoenixville because that represents one stop in each of the three collaborating counties and the three most populous communities along the line. Additional stops could be added once the Service Development Plan is initiated and ridership from other communities is evaluated.

Where will the passenger train stations be located in each community?

As the SRPRA develops the service plan in coordination with the Federal Rail Administration, communities along the proposed route are taking independent action to prepare for the future which will only help the effort’s status in the Federal Corridor Identification Program. SRPRA will form a committee to identify and apply for collective grant funding to make the three passenger rail stations a reality.

As of May 1, 2024:

  • Reading has undertaken a logistical study with the Berks County Planning Commission and their engineering consultant to analyze various options.
  • Pottstown Borough Council is evaluating existing and potentially new sites for its passenger rail station.
  • Phoenixville leadership are working closely with SRPRA and are reviewing previously identified potential sites as candidates.

At this stage in the project’s lifecycle, it is premature to report on all of the potential sites for stations, however each community is committed to accommodating passengers with facilities that are convenient, walkable, and include adequate parking.

When would the new rail service begin?

The launch of the new rail service will depend upon many factors including funding and availability of passenger train equipment. Service is anticipated to start by 2029. Click the link below to learn more about the process and current status of the restoration of passenger rail to the region.

Who will operate the new rail line?

SRPRA has proposed that Amtrak be its operator, for a variety of reasons not the least of which is that economies of scale can be realized because one of the initial route endpoints in Philadelphia, which is a major operations hub for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

What is the cost of the SRPRA and the rail line?

This is a multi-part question, including the cost of the ongoing operation of the Authority, the cost of the planning, design and construction, and the cost of operation.  The cost of the routine operation of the Authority has averaged $18,661 through the end of 2023 and is funded by the three constituent counties.  The cost of planning, design and construction will be estimated as part of the preparation of the Service Development Plan (SDP) and is funded with a combination of federal and state grants.  The cost of operation of the service will also be estimated during preparation of the SDP and will be funded during the initial years by FRA grants; sources of funding for long term operating costs remain to be determined.

How will the train service be paid for?

In addition to the passenger fare, the federal infrastructure bill passed in 2021 changed how Amtrak passenger rail is funded, with the majority of the first six years of non-fare operating expenses being covered by the federal government.

Still have questions?

Join in on a future meeting.
SRPRA meetings are held once a month via Zoom. Click below for future dates and the Zoom link as well as past meeting agendas and minutes.