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Rail safety bill amendment proposes to extend RRIF loan terms by 10 years


Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) secured an amendment in the House-passed version of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (H.R. 2095) that would extend the term of loans granted under the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) Program from 25 years to 35 years, according to the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA).

The longer term would reduce annual principal payments, thereby improving railroads' cash flow and increasing their ability to boost infrastructure rehabilitation investments, the association said.

"The improved cash flow will also help light-density short lines better meet the financial benchmarks required to secure a RRIF loan," ASLRRA officials said in a prepared statement.
The Braley amendment originally was part of a package of RRIF loan changes the Congressman drafted after floods struck Iowa as a way to help the state's railroads pay for repairs to track and bridges. However, the final version of his amendment applied the term change to all RRIF loans. Class Is, short lines, commuter agencies and local government units can apply for the loans.

Under the RRIF program, the Federal Railroad Administration is authorized to provide direct loans and loan guarantees up to $35 billion — with $7 billion set aside for regionals and short lines — to acquire, improve or rehabilitate intermodal or rail equipment or facilities; refinance outstanding debt incurred for those purposes; or develop or establish new intermodal or railroad facilities.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/29/2008