I received the following e-mail about federal passenger rail funding. I think the most important part from Columbus’ perspective is the $345 Million per year available for “Amtrak to finance facilities and infrastructure improvements” if the state can come up with 20% matching funds. I also like the attempt to leverage private investment from the freight railroads. Hat tip to Noozer, who posted this story on Columbus Underground yesterday.
Dear Supporters and Members,
House Resolution H.R. 6003, the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, was unveiled May 8 by members of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, with a press conference demonstrating bipartisan support of Amtrakservice.
The $14 billion, five-year reauthorization includes about $1.34 billion per year for Amtrak’s capital needs, along with $606 million per year for operations. Amtrak’s fiscal year 2008 capital budget was $565 million.
The resolution also includes several provisions for advancing high speed rail development (or what some observers categorized as “higher speed” incremental rail approaches). Two such provisions include: the soliciting of proposals by the U.S. Department of Transportation to significantly upgrade and overhaul Amtrak’s existing Northeast Corridor (NEC); and proposals for two-hour express service betweenand Washington through less-dramatic improvements to existing NEC infrastructure, such as catenary, signaling, and/or additional high speed turnouts.
In addition, about $345 million per year would be provided to states and/or Amtrak to finance facilities and infrastructure improvements, as well as passenger equipment, for projects improving speeds to 110 mph. States would have to provide at least 20% of a project’s cost.
The bill also would establish a pilot program permitting freight railroads to partner with potential new passenger rail providers, and provide more than $400 million per year in matching funds that states could apply for to advance passenger rail improvements.
Notably absent is any mention of penalizing freight railroads for Amtrak’s on-time performance problems. U.S., D-N.J., recently said the cost borne by Amtrak for such problems was as high as $111.4 million, citing a study conducted by USDOT’s inspector general per Lautenberg’s request. The senator last October sponsored a bill empowering the Surface Transportation Board to investigate Amtrak delays and fine freight railroads held responsible.
Please Take Action!
Contact your Representative immediately and urge them to support H.R. 6003
to invest in passenger rail.
Explain to your Representative that the resolution contains language to support states looking into passenger rail development. (This funding can be used to implement Hub start-up service)
Contact information for Members of Congress can be found here: