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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

USDOT proposes new guidelines for RRIF program, ASLRRA says


The U.S. Department of Transportation recently proposed new guidelines for the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan program, according to an item in the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association’s “View & News” newsletter issued yesterday.

The new guidelines would promote greater usage of the program and meet a broader array of rail development needs. Established by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century and amended by the Safe Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: a Legacy for Users, or SAFETEA-LU, the RRIF program authorizes the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to provide direct loans and loan guarantees up to $35 billion — including up to $7 billion for regionals and short lines — to acquire, improve or rehabilitate intermodal or rail equipment or facilities, including track, track components bridges, yards, buildings and shops. Loans also can be used to refinance outstanding debt incurred for those purposes, or to develop or establish new intermodal or railroad facilities.

However, since the FRA began providing loans in 2002, the program has only issued loans totaling a little more than $1 billion. And since January 2009, only three new loans have been granted, all of which were in process before that time, according to the news item.

The FRA is considering whether to restructure the RRIF program so loans can help fulfill national transportation goals, such as improving passenger-rail service or reducing transportation emissions.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/13/2010