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Hollings to introduce to Senate another rail-related bill


U.S. Senator Earnest Hollings (D-S.C.) March 4 announced plans to introduce yet another piece of legislation aimed at providing funds for intercity passenger rail. Hollings previously introduced S. 1530, Rail Advancement and Infrastructure Law for the 21st Century, which would provide $3.2 billion for security; and S. 1550, Rail Security Act of 2001, $1.8 billion, also for security.

Hollings’ latest offering, National Defense Interstate Rail Act, would provide $1.3 billion in one-time costs to be authorized in fiscal-year 2003, plus an additional $4.6 billion annually for fiscal-years 2003 through 2007 for federal high-speed corridor development ($1.55 billion), Northeast Corridor ($1.3 billion), Cooperative Research Program ($5 million), National Railroad Passenger Corp. ($500.5 million), long-distance trains ($580 million), short-distance and state-supported routes ($270 million), and financing for railroad projects ($350 million).

In addition to taking a "divide-and-conquer" approach to Amtrak’s various funding needs within and outside of the Northeast Corridor, the bill would provide state governments, commuter railroads and private companies funds to develop high-speed rail corridors. State contributions would not be required, and preference would be given to projects that would increase speeds to 125 mph — although operations of 90 mph or higher would be eligible for funding.

Legislators already face a bundle of rail-related legislation introduced during the 107th Congress: H.R. 2329 and its companion S. 250, High-Speed Rail Investment Act of 2001, which would provide $12 billion; H.R. 2950, Rail Infrastructure Development and Expansion Act for the 21st Century, $71 billion; S. 1528, Rail Transportation Safety and Security Act, $1.5 billion; H.R. 3166, Rebuild America: Financing Infrastructure Renewal and Security for Transportation Act of 2001, $15 billion; and H.R. 3090, Economic Security and Recovery Act of 2001, $9 billion.

Meanwhile, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Railroads planned March 6 to hold a hearing titled "Amtrak Status: Successes and Failures of Amtrak and of the Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act of 1997."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/6/2002