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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Rail coalition calls for better surface transportation programs


A coalition of freight- and passenger-rail organizations is calling on Congress to continue to pursue improvements to the nation’s surface transportation programs.

While offering praise to Republicans and Democrats for passing a two-year surface transportation reauthorization bill in Congress last week, OneRail Coalition representatives said they hope to work with Congress to address transportation issues that were not included in the bill, known as Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21).

“The OneRail Coalition is disappointed the final agreement did not include several rail provisions such as the ability for state DOTs to flex funding for freight-rail projects when that is the most efficient option, rail planning provisions, and restoration of tax parity for parking and commuter benefits,” coalition officials said in a prepared statement. “As the next major pieces of surface transportation legislation are developed, the OneRail Coalition looks forward to working with Congress to ensure that rail issues and long-term funding challenge are addressed. America needs to continue to advance an efficient, multi-modal freight and passenger transportation network with robust public and private funding.”

Coalition members expressed satisfaction that some of their concerns were addressed in the new bill, including: maintaining dedicated funding for the Section 130 grade crossing safety program; authorizing funding for the merit-based Projects of National and Regional Significance program; continuing to make operating intercity passenger-rail service an eligible use of Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement funding; and expanding the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program.

President Obama is expected to sign MAP-21 on Friday.

OneRail is a group of rail stakeholders that advocate the benefits of a strong passenger and freight-rail system in the United States. Members include the American Public Transportation Association, American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, Amtrak, Association of American Railroads, Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, National Association of Railroad Passengers, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association, Railway Supply Institute, States for Passenger Rail Coalition, Surface Transportation Policy Partnership, Sheet Metal Workers International Association, Transportation Communications International Union/International Association of Machinists and United Transportation Union.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/5/2012