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FRA receives 278 pre-applications for high-speed rail grants, issues proposed PTC implementation rules


Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has received 278 pre-applications for high-speed rail (HSR) grants totaling $102 billion. The funds would come from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail competitive grant program, which has been appropriated $8 billion by the Obama Administration.

The FRA has received 108 pre-applications from interested parties in the West totaling $38 billion and 79 pre-applications from interested parties in the Northeast totaling $35 billion. The administration also has received 44 forms from South/Southeast constituents totaling $16 billion and 47 forms from Midwest constituents totaling $13 billion.
Interested parties from 40 states and the District of Columbia have filed pre-applications. For example, the state of Virginia recently submitted pre-applications for more than $2 billion in HSR grants for projects focusing on heavily congested areas, including the Interstate 95 corridor from Washington, D.C., to Petersburg and the Hampton Roads area. In addition, the Pennsylvania DOT has submitted a pre-application seeking grants for several projects, including the Keystone East Corridor from Harrisburg to Philadelphia; Scranton-to-New York passenger-rail service program’s first phase; Pittsburgh high-speed magnetic levitation project’s first phase; and Keystone West Harrisburg-to-Pittsburgh HSR feasibility study.

The FRA plans to work with states and regions to identify priorities — especially since the funding sought by pre-applicants far exceeds the federal appropriation — and prepare for ongoing HSR development.

Final applications are due to the FRA by Aug. 24 for individual project and planning funds, and Oct. 2 for corridor program funds. The administration expects to announce the first round of merit-based grants in the fall.

The USDOT and FRA also issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that aims to prescribe how railroads should use positive train-control (PTC) systems to prevent train-to-train collisions.

The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 requires major freight railroads and intercity and commuter-rail operators to submit their PTC plans to FRA for approval by April, 16, 2010. PTC systems must be in place by the 2015’s end. The proposed rules specify how technically complex PTC systems should function and how the FRA would assess a railroad’s PTC plan.

“FRA is setting the bar high in terms of design, construction and oversight of PTC technologies among different railroads,” said FRA Administrator Joe Szabo in a prepared statement.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/17/2009