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Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals

FRA report: Infrastructure capital needs for regionals, short lines reach $1.6 billion


A 2013 survey conducted by the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute (UGPTI) shows the responding regionals and short lines need slightly more than $599 million in capital to meet their current infrastructure-improvement needs, according to a recent Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) report.

Titled, "Summary of Class II and Class III Railroad Capital Needs and Funding Sources," the report cites results based on 115 respondents from among 470 regionals and short lines surveyed by UGPTI, a University Transportation Center at North Dakota State University. The survey targeted infrastructure expenditures the railroads would require to meet current service levels and expected growth.

When asked about their estimated capital needs over the next five years for infrastructure spending and equipment, respondents cited a collective need of over $1.2 billion, with 80 percent targeted for infrastructure improvements, FRA officials said in the report.

"While it is difficult to determine the spending needs for this entire segment of the industry, [our] estimates, based upon the survey results, show a current overall need of about $1.6 billion while future needs are $5.3 billion, bringing total investment needs to about $6.9 billion," they said. "The railroads also reported that they anticipated funding most of their expenses out of cash flow, bank loans, and the array of programs offered by state and federal governments."

In the early 1990s, the House Committee on Appropriations directed the U.S. Department of Transportation to submit a report to the House and Senate appropriations committees that
summarizes the capital investment needs of Class II and Class III railroads, and the extent to which those needs are met by sources other than the federal government. The latest report marks the fifth time the FRA has delivered a report to Congress since January 1993.

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