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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Rail industry applauds 'historic' funding levels in infrastructure bill


Railroads praised the House of Representatives' passage late last week of a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, which includes full five-year surface transportation reauthorization.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) includes $66 billion for railways, $39 billion for public transit and $17 billion for ports and waterways.

"As we continue to navigate supply chain challenges, the need for the thoughtful funding and policy solutions over the long term that this bipartisan package delivers are even more clear," said Association of American Railroads President and CEO Ian Jeffries in a press release. "Thanks to the hard work of many, our nation will make the significant, long-overdue investments we need to modernize our public infrastructure, enhance safety and support future economic growth.”

The legislation calls for nearly $845 million per year for highway-rail grade crossing safety and elimination projects and an average of $5.55 billion per year for discretionary infrastructure grant programs, including $1 billion per year for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) grant program, which provides essential support to short line and passenger railroads as well as state departments of transportation.

The IIJA includes significant funding for research, development and demonstration projects that will play an important role in creating and further refining technologies that will help railroads to continue reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and further address climate change.

The bill’s passage marks a "historic victory" for short lines and the communities they serve, said American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) President Chuck Baker in a press release.

Short lines will "aggressively compete" for funding that will be made available through grant programs such as CRISI, INFRA, RAISE and grade-crossing and grade-separation programs, Baker said. 

That funding in turn will be invested in "game-changing infrastructure projects that will allow us to do our part in driving economic growth, improving safety, implementing innovative technology to drive efficiencies for our customers, and continuing to advance the many environmental benefits of rail," he said.

Meanwhile, the IIJA will provide historic levels of funding for Amtrak and intercity passenger rail, Amtrak officials said in a press release.

"This bill will allow Amtrak to advance significant infrastructure and major station projects on the NEC (Northeast Corridor), purchase new passenger-rail equipment and develop new rail corridors, bringing passenger rail to more people across the nation," said CEO Bill Flynn.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/8/2021