OneRail Coalition Statement on Passenger Rail Funding

Release Date: 
Sep 10 2015

Dedicated, Long Term Funding for Intercity Passenger Rail: OneRail supports the creation of a new predictable, dedicated federal funding program with contract authority for capital investment in intercity passenger rail infrastructure projects in the surface transportation reauthorization legislation.

Annual Appropriations: In addition, OneRail supports retaining the current intercity passenger rail appropriations accounts for general operations, maintenance, and state of good repair investments

While the OneRail Coalition is appreciative of the overall funding levels provided for intercity passenger rail in the Senate DRIVE Act, which authorizes grants directly to Amtrak and also to the States for intercity passenger rail investments at levels that are higher than the status quo, the Coalition looks forward to working with Congress to further strengthen this bill as it moves through the legislative process. In particular, the Coalition will continue to work to educate the American public and Congress about the need to provide the same predictable, dedicated funding for the national intercity passenger rail network that is enjoyed by other modes. Having a predictable, dedicated, and robust federal funding source is essential to sustaining and improving the intercity passenger rail system and achieving a balanced transportation system that provides meaningful travel choices for Americans. 


Background:

Many elements of the Nation's intercity passenger rail infrastructure are over 100 years old and in dire need of replacement.  Time is running out in terms of keeping a number of critical facilities in operation.

Aged infrastructure requires significant additional maintenance effort and cost to remain operational. Now is the time to get out of this downward spiral.

The nation's current passenger rail fleet is older now than the equipment inherited from freight railroads in 1971.

Major bottlenecks in the Chicago area result in significant delays for intercity passenger rail operations, also affecting freight rail and commuter rail services.

Stations throughout the national intercity passenger rail network require modernization, ADA accessibility, and expansion to accommodate the demand for rail service.

Intercity passenger rail has never had access to dedicated federal funding and contract authority that would enable greater efficiency in the planning, design and construction of capital investments.

A significant and reliable multi-year capital commitment from the Federal government would provide for major multi-year projects, including replacement of obsolete bridges, tunnels, and rolling stock, as well as station modernization and new corridor development.

Federal investment in an integrated, multi-modal national surface transportation system is critical to support an efficient, growing U.S. economy, including the sizeable rail supply sector and a large number of good paying American jobs.

America's population of 320 million citizens is projected to increase by 70 million people by 2045, so it becomes increasingly critical to sustained economic development that we make passenger rail infrastructure investments to help assure mobility for our citizens.