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2/10/2003



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

FRA contracts consultant to help improve RRIF process


The Federal Railroad Administration recently hired Volpe Transportation Center to analyze the federal Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program's statutory and regulatory requirements, and review FRA's application process, according to American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association's (ASLRRA) recent newsletter.


The third-party consultant also will interview small-road officials. Volpe Transportation Center then would issue recommendations to FRA on how the administration could simplify and speed the RRIF application process.


In two years, FRA has approved RRIF loans for only four regionals and short lines — most recently for 28-mile Nashville & Western Railroad Corp. (N&W), ASLRRA said. However, FRA still is negotiating N&W's loan agreement, says FRA Public Affairs Specialist Warren Flatau, adding that the administration might release loan details in about a week.


Last year, FRA approved loans for 21-mile Mount Hood Railroad and 139-mile Arkansas & Missouri Railroad Co. In 2001, the former 1,385-mile I&M Rail Link — which now is owned by Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corp. — received the first RRIF loan.


RRIF, which was authorized by Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, provides railroads $3.5 billion in loans (including $1 billion benefiting regionals and short lines) to improve infrastructure.


Jeff Stagl


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