The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee marked-up a $57 billion transportation title that includes dedicated funding for high-speed rail and transit, part of a sweeping budget reconciliation bill to revitalize US infrastructure and address climate change.
The bill was passed out of committee Tuesday by Democrats on a party-line vote of 37-29. It includes $10 billion for high-speed rail projects, $10 billion for a new grant program to improve transit access for economically disadvantaged communities, and $4 billion to reduce surface transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions.
The T&I transportation title will act as a supplement to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which passed the Senate without meaningful input from the House of Representatives.
“We are going to be marking up a bill to try and fix some of the issues with the so-called bipartisan infrastructure plan, which we will not be allowed otherwise to deal with,” said Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR).
“We applaud Chairs Peter DeFazio and Donald Payne, along with the rest of the House Transportation Committee, for advancing this critical high-speed funding,” said Jim Mathews, Rail Passengers President & CEO. “High-speed rail is an essential component of any modern passenger rail network—one that was unfortunately left out of the Senate bipartisan infrastructure bill. Providing dedicated funding for high-speed rail will support development of new corridors and allow tens of millions of additional Americans to choose to travel by train.”
The high-speed rail funding will go to develop train services capable of reaching speeds of 160 mph or more on shared-use corridors, or 186 mph or more on passenger-dedicated corridors.
The program appears primarily targeted at capital upgrades, which include right of way acquisition, track construction, signaling, highway-rail grade crossing upgrades, and construction and upgrade of facilities. The program requires corridors directly serve rail stations within higher density areas of urbanized areas to receive capital funding.
There is a set-aside for planning, with a minimum of 10 percent dedicated for planning activities, such as feasibility studies; impact on rail employment; community economic impacts; identification of improvements including electrification; and the acquisition of locomotives, rolling stock, track, and signal equipment.
The bill will now be folded into a larger budget reconciliation bill and taken up by the full House. Significant hurdles remain to ensuring passage by the Senate, though budget reconciliation allows passage by a simple majority vote.