Schuylkill River Passenger Rail Authority Moves Forward
Back in April, the Chester County Commissioners joined Berks and Montgomery Counties in approving the creation of the Schuylkill River Passenger Rail Authority (SRPRA) to oversee and implement the restoration of passenger rail service between Reading and Philadelphia, including potential stops in Phoenixville, Pottstown, and Reading. At its most recent meeting on September 19, Authority board members approved the appointment of Thomas Frawley as the organization's first interim executive director.
Mr. Frawley currently serves as the Principle of Thomas Frawley Consulting and has over 40 years of experience in public transportation systems planning, construction, operations and management. He also recently participated in the Phoenixville Passenger Rail Task Force's study of restoring passenger rail service between Phoenixville and Philadelphia.
"Restoring passenger rail service along this corridor would greatly enhance transportation options in northern Chester County, providing an alternative to single occupancy vehicles, particularly for those traveling to Philadelphia," said Brian O'Leary, Executive Director of the Chester County Planning Commission and SRPA Board member. Expanding public transportation reduces vehicles on the road, which improves air quality, reduces carbon emissions, and improves quality of life.
Although the creation of the SRPRA is not a guarantee that passenger rail will return, it serves as a crucial next step to continue the long process of research and planning. The Authority is currently working with Amtrak on the restoration of passenger rail service and has expressed interest in participating in the Federal Railroad Administrations' Corridor Identification Program, which would use the newly-approved federal infrastructure funds for this service. After three years, the SRPRA will be reevaluated and up for reauthorization by each county in order to give county officials an opportunity to determine if the effort is still worthwhile.
The Chester County Planning Commission has been working to assist the SRPRA which supports the "Connect" goal in Chester County's Comprehensive Plan, Landscapes3. Information about the initiative including meeting agendas, bylaws, and other information can be found at https://srpra.net/.