The Schuylkill River Passenger Railroad Authority is hiring a consultant to lead its mission

The Schuylkill River Passenger Rail Authority has selected a consultant to help restore passenger rail service between Reading and Philadelphia.

The authority tentatively approved the contract with Transportation for America at its monthly meeting Monday afternoon. The Washington, D.C.-based company will help authorities navigate the technical and political aspects of the passenger rail project.

The contract is subject to attorney review and approval.

Voting took place according to the results of the executive session. There was no public discussion among council members before the vote, and the amount of the contract was not disclosed.

Transportation for America was one of two companies to act as a board of directors during a power meeting last month.

At that meeting, Transportation for America Chairman John Robert Smith emphasized his company’s connection to key players in the DC transportation world. He said he has experience helping to create transportation policy as well as implementing those ideas in the real world.

Smith said his company has a deep understanding of the Federal Railroad Administration and will make sure the authority is well-equipped to provide whatever assistance is needed to move the project forward. He said the company will also make sure the authority is ready to fight for much-needed funding when it becomes available.

The authority is a joint effort by officials in Berks, Montgomery and Chester counties to revive passenger rail service. Tuesday was the group’s third meeting, and much of the business that transpired — such as the hiring of a consultant — should lay the groundwork for that effort.

The Board also discussed the progress that has been made in the selection of an Executive Director to lead the body.

Greater Reading Chamber Alliance President Jim Gerlach, who chairs the personnel committee, said the committee has had conversations with four people who have expressed interest in becoming the authority’s executive director.

“We’ve had a very good experience with these four potential candidates, and so we have the preferred candidate at this point,” he said. “We recommend that we enter into negotiations for a consulting agreement with this individual to fill this temporary position.”

The council plans to discuss the details of the agreement before its next meeting. Members expressed optimism that a choice could be made at the September meeting.

In other news, the board appointed Chicago-based Old Republic General Insurance Group as the authority’s insurance provider and selected two versions of the official logo.

Selected official logos of the Schuylkill River Passenger Railroad Authority.

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