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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

USDOT seeks applicants for intercity passenger-rail grants


The U.S. Department of Transportation yesterday issued a notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) announcing the availability of nearly $2.3 billion in funding to expand and modernize intercity passenger rail nationwide through the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Grant Program.

The funding amount marks one of the largest federal investments to expand intercity passenger rail across the United States in 50 years, USDOT officials said in a press release.

Selected projects will improve existing rail corridors and create new ones to broaden access to passenger-rail service. The funding became available through the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which Congress passed in November 2021.

Administered by the Federal Railroad Administration, the partnership program has long funded the revitalization of rail assets, such as fixing track, structures and grade crossings.

Previous grants have funded rehabilitation projects, such as the Kalamazoo-to-Dearborn rail corridor in Michigan and the Piedmont Corridor in North Carolina. Those routes and others are used by tens of millions of Americans each year, and new investments will increase the reliability and frequency of service and reduce delays, USDOT officials said.

Beginning with the fiscal-year 2022 NOFO announced yesterday, eligible entities can apply to expand and establish new intercity passenger and high-speed rail services. Applications are due March 7, 2023.

In addition, projects that improve the safety, reliability and performance of intercity passenger-rail services and project planning elements, such as environmental review and final design, are also now eligible for funding under the partnership program, department officials said.