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Rail News: Passenger Rail

House Transportation and Infrastructure committee to markup RIDE 21, Amtrak reauthorization


The full U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure plans May 22 to markup Railroad Infrastructure Development and Expansion Act for the 21st Century (RIDE 21) (H.R. 2950), and Amtrak Reauthorization Act of 2002 (H.R. 4545).

RIDE 21, which U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) and transportation and infrastructure committee chair introduced Sept. 25, would authorize states and state compacts to issue up to $12 billion in federally tax-exempt bonds and $12 billion in federal tax-credit bonds for infrastructure improvements for high-speed passenger rail service, extend the Swift Rail Development Act through fiscal-year 2009, and increase Railroad Rehabilitation & Infrastructure Financing loan and loan-guarantee program’s outstanding loan principal from $3.5 billion to $35 billion. The primary benefit available for Class II and Class III railroads would increase from $1 billion to $7 billion; and obstacles, such as structure of loan cohorts, collateral requirements, artificial limits on loan amounts and prior-rejection requirement, would be eliminated.

H.R. 4545 would reauthorize Amtrak for one year, and grant the railroad the $1.2 billion it requested for FY03, plus an additional $775 million for life-safety and security programs. The amount is higher than the $521 million President Bush proposed in his 2003 budget, but far less than the $4.6 billion in annual funds proposed in National Defense Interstate Rail Act (S. 1991).

S. 1991 also would reauthorize Amtrak for five years and provide $1.4 billion in one-time security improvements. The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation passed S. 1991 April 18 and referred it to the full Senate for consideration.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/20/2002