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U.S. Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) last week introduced legislation that would authorize a $5 billion annual investment over a five-year period to fund intercity passenger-rail service.
The Building Rail Across Intercity Networks To Ride Around Interior of the Nation (BRAIN TRAIN) Act would allow the U.S. Department of Transportation to implement a competitive grant program that would fund up to $25 billion for high-performance rail projects over five years.
High-performance rail projects are those passenger-rail services that enhance capacity and reduce travel times; improve freight, commuter or intercity rail operations; provide environment benefits; and encourage multimodal connections.
“Despite clear economic, environmental and safety benefits, Congress has insufficiently invested in expanding passenger rail,” said Markey in a press release. “Developing and restoring passenger-rail service, especially in communities that have been under-connected, is exactly the kind of recovery program that can help repair the economic damage caused by the coronavirus while correcting long-standing inequities.”
Markey said the legislation could help build the east-west rail connection between Boston, Springfield and Pittsfield, Massachusetts; finish the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s South Coast Rail project; and explore other routes like Housatonic Railroad Co.’s proposed Berkshire passenger-rail line from New York City to Pittsfield through Danbury, Connecticut.
The Western Massachusetts Rail Coalition, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Transportation for America have endorsed Markey's bill.