State Rail Coalition Asks Congress to Provide Strong Support for Passenger Rail in 2011

WASHINGTON — Saying the states are ready to move forward aggressively to improve the nation’s rail system, the States for Passenger Rail Coalition is calling on Congress to fund passenger rail projects and programs generously in 2011.

The States for Passenger Rail Coalition is an alliance of state departments of transportation that was established in 2000 and supports intercity passenger rail initiatives and advocates for federal funding.

Noting that the states’ focus is on “safety, economic development, energy security and conservation and environmental quality,” coalition members made the following requests to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies:

— A $2.5 billion appropriation to fund grant requests under the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program, the same level requested for 2010. The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has authorized $8 billion in total grants under this program. In reviewing the applications USDOT acknowledged the high quality of a significant majority of the proposals.

— $100 million for the positive train control program; and $55 million for the Swift High-Speed Rail Grade Crossing Elimination Program.

— $45 million for the Rail Line Relocation program, which provides needed financial assistance to states, local communities and freight railroads to make investments in safety and economic development.

— The coalition supports Amtrak’s request for $2.2 billion. Coalition members noted Amtrak “…faces a broad array of daunting challenges to include meeting ADA requirements, operating over an ever-aging infrastructure and assisting the states in development of a national intercity passenger rail system.”

— $1 billion for the “next generation” intercity passenger rail equipment effort. This collaborative effort will lead to the acquisition of a modern fleet of passenger rail equipment and motive power.