This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
Hard to find anything besides the AP wire story, but this is interesting:
Key Provisions of Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008
* Increases Capital and Operating Grants to Amtrak. The bill authorizes $4.2 billion (an average of $840 million per year) to Amtrak for capital grants and $3.0 billion (an average of $606 million per year) for operating grants. Past inconsistent Federal support has hampered Amtrak’s ability to replace catenaries, passenger cars, bridges, ties, and other equipment necessary for Amtrak to provide service. These capital grants will help Amtrak bring the Northeast Corridor to a state-of-good-repair, procure new rolling stock, rehabilitate existing bridges, as well as make additional capital improvements and maintenance over its entire network. In addition, the operating grants authorized under the bill will help Amtrak pay salaries, health costs, overtime pay, fuel costs, facilities, and train maintenance and operations. These operating grants will also ensure that Amtrak can meet its obligations under its recently negotiated labor contract.
* Develops State Passenger Corridors. In an effort to encourage the development of new and improved intercity passenger rail services, the bill creates a new State Capital Grant program for intercity passenger rail capital projects, and based on the New Starts transit capital program administered by the Federal Transit Administration. The bill provides $2.5 billion ($500 million per year) for grants to States to pay for the capital costs of facilities and equipment necessary to provide new or improved intercity passenger rail. The Federal share of the grants is up to 80 percent. The Secretary of Transportation would award these grants on a competitive basis for projects based on economic performance, expected ridership, and other factors.
* Provides Funding for High-Speed Rail Corridors. The National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, established to develop a national transportation vision to address surface transportation needs for the next 50 years, recommends that the United States establish a high-speed rail network that spans the entire country. The bill authorizes $1.75 billion ($350 million per year) for grants to States and/or Amtrak to finance the construction and equipment for 11 authorized high-speed rail corridors. The Federal share of the grants is up to 80 percent. The Secretary of Transportation would award these grants on a competitive basis for projects based on economic performance, expected ridership, and other factors.
This is crucial stuff, especially since Amtrak hasn’t been reauthorized by congress since 2002. It’s been essentially running on fumes for the past 6 years (King St. Station, anyone?).
People complain about Amtrak’s service level, but considering how starved for funds its been, they’ve done a remarkable job. Imagine what they’ll do with actual money.
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