Home | Planning for Passenger Rail
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. The process being undertaken by the Schuylkill River Passenger Rail Authority (SRPRA or the Authority) is building upon the lessons learned from the studies of years past and is primarily focused on partnering with Amtrak as the proposed operator and participating in the Intercity Passenger Rail Corridor Identification and Development Program being led by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Other key stakeholders beyond the constituent counties of the Authority and Amtrak include the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), the anticipated host railroads including Norfolk Southern, and the municipal governments, sponsor organizations and advocacy groups along the Reading — Philadelphia Corridor segment.
Over the past couple of decades, there have been numerous planning studies conducted on restoring passenger rail service within the Schuylkill River Corridor. View studies.
The Federal Rail Administration's Corridor Identification and Development Program is designed to facilitate the development of intercity passenger rail corridors. The details of this program can be found at the following links:
The SRPRA believes that this program is extremely important for the restoration of passenger rail service to Phoenixville, Pottstown, and Reading and has submitted a letter of interest for the program.
View the Notice of Solicitation of Corridor Proposals and Funding Opportunity for the Corridor Identification and Development Program. This notice details the application requirements and procedures for the selection of eligible corridors to participate in the Corridor Identification and Development Program and obtain grant funding appropriated in fiscal year 2022.
The Service Development Plan is a business plan, operating plan and capital plan, that documents the investment case for a proposed passenger rail service. It must demonstrate operational feasibility, financial feasibility, and value and merit of the proposed passenger rail service. Learn More
AMTRAK's Connects US Program includes future passenger rail service along the Schuylkill River corridor, including Phoenixville, Pottstown, and Reading.
The current PA State Rail Plan includes passenger rail service to Phoenixville, Pottstown, and Reading
Although the SRPRA has taken a leadership role in the effort to restore rail passenger service in the Reading – Philadelphia Corridor segment, the Authority will not have direct responsibility for many aspects of the project. Among these is the planning and development of passenger rail stations suitable for Amtrak intercity passenger train operations. The role of the Authority regarding stations is the subject of a formal policy, and the Authority has endorsed the use of all applicable Amtrak standards in the station planning and development process.
The SRPRA has adopted a policy regarding station development that is consistent with Amtrak's, by which primary responsibility for providing station facilities typically rests with local entities, including the municipalities in which proposed stations are located, as well as local private sector entities and civic organizations. The SRPRA will help coordinate and facilitate station development in a supporting role once the lead entity and its partners have committed to the station project. The Authority may also take a major role with regard to the portion of station facilities within the host railroad right-of-way, essentially consisting of the station platform(s).
Regarding standards, the Authority has shared Amtrak's Station Planning and Development Guidebook with parties pursuing a potential station in their community. The Guidebook addresses the planning and development process, along with design standards generally required by Amtrak and specifically required for compatibility with freight trains in a shared-track environment such as is proposed between Reading and Philadelphia. The Authority has also made available Norfolk Southern's General Principles Guiding Norfolk Southern's Evaluation of Passenger Station Proposals, which will apply to stations developed on their property.
As station planning and development activities advance in the communities of Reading, Pottstown and Phoenixville, information will be shared on the Authority website and links will be provided to websites of station project sponsors.
In terms of current news, on March 17, 2023 it was announced that the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance was awarded a Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development grant of $142,346 to support station development activities, potentially including site identification, study of zoning strategies to foster development that complements the planned rail service, and other activities. Additionally, on April 7 it was announced that the Borough of Pottstown received a Thriving Communities grant from the US Department of Transportation, which will help support initial planning for their passenger rail station.