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Rail needs to be part of U.S. transportation capacity expansions, OneRail Coalition says


The OneRail Coalition recently called on the federal government to ensure freight and passenger rail are included in national assessments for adding transportation capacity, along with highway and aviation options. The coalition of railroads, rail labor unions, rail industry suppliers and environmental advocates recently filed comments with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on the development of a National Rail Plan after soliciting input from members in order to reach a consensus on the future of U.S. rail policy.

OneRail recommends that the National Rail Plan:
• call for establishing a national framework for transportation investment in the context of an overall multi-modal transportation network;
• continue dedicated funding for commuter rail, and establish new dedicated funding sources for high-speed and intercity passenger rail;
• maintain a strong focus on safety and security, relying on “common sense” and performance-based regulations;
• recognize the complexities of passenger and freight rail partnerships;
• support the development of a renewed U.S. passenger-rail equipment manufacturing industry through a “vision for sustained equipment purchases” and equipment life-cycle policies that avoid “boom or bust”procurement cycles; and
• boost rail workforce development and planning leadership to support rail industry growth.

OneRail also urged the FRA to include five-, 10- and 20-year milestones in the plan that measure various metrics, such as the percent of the population with access to intercity passenger-rail service, and marketshare growth for freight and passenger rail.

“It is time to rebalance transportation policy in the U.S. to promote rail equally with highways and other transportation investments," said Anne Canby, president of the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership and a OneRail founder, in a prepared statement. "The development of a National Rail Plan lays out a comprehensive long-term view for rail transportation in America that gives us an historic opportunity to align the future of our transportation system with critical national priorities."

OneRail members include the American Public Transportation Association; American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association; Amtrak; Association of American Railroads; Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen; National Association of Railroad Passengers; Natural Resources Defense Council; National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association; Railway Supply Institute; States for Passenger Rail Coalition; Surface Transportation Policy Partnership; Transportation Communications International Union; and United Transportation Union

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/12/2010