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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Freight rail a component of economic stimulus funding, AAR says


When President Barack Obama signs the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1/S.1) — since it’s almost a certainty he will sign some version of the legislation soon — freight railroads can expect a small chunk of the hundreds of billions of dollars to flow in their direction.

As the House and Senate compromise bill stands now, $27.5 billion would be provided for U.S. Department of Transportation highway formula grants to the states. The legislation would expand eligibility for these funds to include both freight- and passenger-rail projects at states’ discretion.

“The additional flexibility provided by this bill gives states the ability to direct the money to critical infrastructure projects regardless of mode,” said Association of American Railroads President and Chief Executive Officer Ed Hamberger in a prepared statement. “The bill is a victory for both passenger and freight rail. We’re glad the [House and Senate] negotiators recognize that rail projects will create jobs and improve the environment.”
The bill also would provide $1.5 billion for projects of “national and regional significance.” Rail, transit, port, highway and bridge projects would be eligible under the program, said Hamberger.
“The $1.5 billion opens up the possibility for critical investment in projects that would improve the efficiency and performance of the nation’s rail transportation services,” he said. “We have a number of rail projects, including the CREATE project in Chicago, that have local, regional and national significance, and create jobs immediately.”

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/13/2009