Rail Funding Key Issue in FY 2010 Transportation Appropriations

In the last week, much has been written about the submission of more than $50 billion in Track 2 high-speed and intercity passenger rail (HSIPR) funding applications to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).  But the resolution of FY 2010 transportation appropriations may be just as important in determining the direction of HSIPR and freight rail projects.

The OneRail Coalition, a coalition of passenger and freight rail stakeholders promoting investment in rail infrastructure, has written to House and Senate appropriators urging the highest possible support for HSIPR in the final FY 2010 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) appropriations measure. Specifically, OneRail is asking appropriators to endorse the House proposal of $4.0 billion for HSIPR instead of $1.2 billion in included in the Senate-passed measure.  The $4.0 billion included in the House THUD measure would be the equivalent of 50 percent of the amount appropriated for HSIPR in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) economic stimulus legislation and would dramatically enhance high-speed rail development efforts across the country.

[One Rail organizations include the American Public Transportation Association, Amtrak, American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, Association of American Railroads, National Association of Railroad Passengers, National Railroad Construction & Maintenance Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Railway Supply Institute, States for Passenger Rail Coalition, Surface Transportation Policy Partnership, and United Transportation Union.]

OneRail also:

-- Urged appropriations for Amtrak at the authorized amount of $1.84 billion and funding for other rail programs at the highest possible level.

-- Requested that National Infrastructure Investment Grants (the successor to the TIGER program) be funded at $1.1 billion to facilitate further investment in freight rail projects.

-- Asked that House and Senate conferees make rail passenger and freight infrastructure projects eligible expenditures to the degree that general fund revenues help maintain current federal surface transportation programs. Such eligibility was adopted in ARRA.

Also related to rail funding in the FY 2010 THUD measure, more than 20 members of the California Congressional delegation wrote to appropriators urging funding of $50 million for Rail Safety Technology Grants to support installation of Positive Train Control. See House and Senate letters.

The Senate has appointed FY 2010 THUD conferees but the House has not. It is unclear when the final FY 2010 THUD measure may be considered.

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