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House Appropriators Approve $4.1 Billion for Rail
July 16, 2021 by Sean Jeans-Gail

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) passed a Fiscal Year 2022 bill this afternoon that provides $4.1 billion for passenger rail, Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration.

The appropriations bill, passed by a 33-24 vote, will increase rail funding by $1.3 billion compared to last year, represents meaningful support for expanding and improving passenger rail service in the U.S.

“America’s passengers thank the leadership of Chairs DeLauro and Price for their leadership in providing this much-needed funding for the nation’s passenger rail system,” said Rail Passengers President Jim Mathews. “Amtrak and rail operators around the country are carrying more passengers every week, and while we’re certainly not out of the woods yet, it is heartening to see Congress taking action to ensure that these services will still be running when we ultimately beat this pandemic. We look forward to working with Amtrak and Congress to address any future emergency funding needs.”

The T-HUD FY22 funding bill includes:

  • $625 million for the new Passenger Rail Improvement, Modernization, and Expansion (PRIME) grant program, to support projects that improve, expand, or establish passenger rail service.
  • $500 million for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant program, $125 million above fiscal year 2021, of which:
    • Not less than $150 million is to be used on projects that support the development of new intercity passenger rail service routes including alignments for existing routes;
    • Not less than $25 million is to be used on projects to reduce trespassing on railroad property and along railroad rights-of-way; and
    • Not more than $5 million is to be used for planning and project development activities.
  • $2.7 billion for Amtrak, $700 million above fiscal year 2021, including:
    • $1.2 billion for Northeast Corridor Grants, and
    • $1.5 billion for National Network Grants.

Report Language

The Committee also included several rail-related provisions in the

Amfleet eplacement — The Committee directs the FRA to continue to utilize statutory flexibilities to allow state acquisition costs and on-going capital charges related to Amtrak’s new fleet to be an eligible activity in any future NOFOs for the CRISI and PRIME grant programs for fiscal year 2022.

Washington Union Station expansion project — The Committee authorizes the FRA to use funding provided to conduct near-term project development activities to evaluate implementation options for the proposed project in fiscal year 2022, including activities such as real estate studies, financial analysis, and project structure activities.

Direct intercity and commuter rail service — The Committee urges FRA and the FTA to work together with Amtrak and commuter rail agencies to expedite regional investments on the northeast corridor that would unlock new capacity for one-seat ride service to New York Penn to currently underserved communities in New York and New Jersey and along the northeast corridor.

New or expanded passenger rail service — In regards to the Amtrak Connects US plan—which could create up to 39 new routes, improve as many as 25 existing routes, serve up to 166 more cities, and expand service in up to 16 states by 2035—the Committee emphasizes that it is vital that any such new or expanded service continues to be carried out in close collaboration with FRA, states, local governments, and other stakeholders

The Committee also emphasized that to Amtrak that section 24701 of title 49, United States Code, requires Amtrak to operate a national passenger rail system, and urges Amtrak to ensure any potential changes also increase ridership in rural areas and improve service for long-distance customers.

State-supported route cost sharing — The Committee directs Amtrak and FRA to work with the state agencies, in the forum of the State-Amtrak Intercity Passenger Rail Committee (SAIPRC), in an open and transparent manner on the effort to revise the State-Supported services cost allocation methodology (Sec. 209). In addition, the Committee directs the Amtrak OIG to brief the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations on its ongoing audit of the process and data Amtrak uses to allocate costs for state-supported routes, and Amtrak’s actions relating to any potential recommendations and no later than 120 days after enactment of this Act.

Station agents — The Committee continues to direct Amtrak to provide a station agent in each Amtrak station that had a ticket agent position eliminated in fiscal year 2018. In addition, Amtrak is directed to continue to improve communication and collaboration with local partners and take into consideration the unique needs of each community, including impacts to local jobs, when making decisions related to the staffing of Amtrak stations.

Contact centers — The Committee directs Amtrak to continue operations at the Philadelphia contact center with a dedicated workforce consisting of Amtrak employees, maintain such operations with Amtrak employees, and minimize the use of outside vendors to perform telephonic or internet-based customer service support.

Private cars and charter trains — The Committee continues to direct Amtrak to review and evaluate the locations and trains that may be eligible for private car moves, update the guidelines for private cars on Amtrak if additional locations or trains meet Amtrak’s criteria, and notify private car owners of these changes. In addition, Amtrak is directed to include an updated report on private car and charter train policies in its fiscal year 2023 budget justification.

Federal Transit Administration

 

The Committee on Appropriations also provided $15.5 billion for the Federal Transit Administration, including:

--$12.2 billion for Transit Formula Grants to expand bus fleets and increase the transit state of good repair;

--$2.5 billion for Capital Investment Grants, to construct more than 23 new transit routes nationwide, an increase of $459 million above the fiscal year fiscal year 2021 enacted level, and equal to the President’s budget request; and

--$580 million for Transit Infrastructure Grants, to purchase more than 300 zero emission buses, 400 diesel buses, and to support transformative research for transit systems, an increase of $64 million above the fiscal year 2021.


The draft provided a breakdown of CIG projects, including:

--$125 million for the North Portal;

--$150 million for two projects for Northern Indiana (formerly known as the South Shore; and

--$74 million for the electrification of the San Francisco to San Jose line.

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