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House signs off on Amtrak, high-speed rail bill


Yesterday, the House approved the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (H.R. 6003) by a 311-104 vote. The bipartisan legislation was introduced last month.  

H.R. 6003 would reauthorize Amtrak for five years and provide more than $500 annually for a state intercity passenger-rail grant program. The bill also would enable private operators to launch passenger-rail service pilot programs on freight-owned tracks in Amtrak's worst-performing corridors, and require the federal government to work with states and railroads to plan rail infrastructure projects.

"The bill aims in a number of ways to improve and expand U.S. passenger-train service," said National Association of Rail Passengers Executive Director Ross Capon in a prepared statement. "The bill will allow for significant investment in rolling stock and tracks, including the addition of needed track capacity at some key chokepoints where Amtrak and freight trains both suffer delays."

In addition, H.R. 6003 calls for developing high-speed rail service between Washington, D.C., and New York City that would complete the trip in under two hours. The bill would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to solicit proposals for engineering, finance and development plans for the system; create a commission comprising state, local, federal, rail and rail labor stakeholders to evaluate the proposals; and report recommendations to Congress.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/12/2008