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Rail News: Passenger Rail

FRA to evaluate 25 proposals for intercity passenger-rail grants


Let the competition begin. The U.S. Department of Transportation has received 25 proposals from 22 states that are competing for $30 million under a new grant program aimed at improving intercity passenger-rail service.

The proposals generally call for improving intercity passenger-rail reliability, increasing rail capacity and reducing highway congestion. Projects range from installing advanced signaling system to reconfiguring track junctions to constructing additional mainline track.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) currently is reviewing the proposals. The agency will place a higher degree of consideration on proposals that include an intercity passenger-rail component in state plans to address congestion, as well as projects designed to reduce travel times, increase service frequency or improve service quality. A commitment by the host railroad to improve on-time performance also will be taken into account. The FRA expects to identify the final grant recipients in September. Each federal grant will require a 50 percent funding match.

The Bush Administration has requested a $100 million allocation for the grant program in FY2009.

"Our goal is to achieve log-term improvements in intercity passenger rail service by supporting state investments that get real results," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters in a prepared statement.