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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

GAO report outlines what state high-speed planners could learn from past service start-ups


A report released June 17 by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) outlines what high-speed rail planners could learn from recent rail service start-ups.

The GAO-conducted study looked at how states started or improved passenger rail services within the past 15 years to identify issues that need to be resolved, such as developing industry capacity to supply rail equipment and fostering multiyear public support for the systems, now that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has dramatically increased federal funds available for high-speed intercity passenger rail, according to the report.

Past successes were largely dependent on the state’s ability to build public and political support, secure funding, obtain equipment and manage their services, according to the GAO’s report.

In addition, acquiring equipment through collaborative and cost-saving approaches and managing rail services by building consensus with stakeholders will be important for states seeking to initiate services in the future, according to the GAO’s report.

Although rail industry stakeholders are optimistic that they can meet increased public investment in intercity and high-speed passenger rail, it could take several years to provide the necessary infrastructure, even with strong federal leadership and funding. This could potentially make it difficult to spend some Recovery Act high-speed rail funds by 2017, as is required by law, the report cautions.

The report-writers make no recommendations.

To download a PDF of the full report, “Learning from Service Start-ups, Prospects for Increased Industry Investment, and Federal Oversight Plans,” follow this link.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/22/2010