FRA Releases Criteria for Corridor Program

The Federal Railroad Administration last week published in the Federal Register its guidelines for its Corridor Identification Program.

The program was established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and allocated $1.8 billion in funding.

Eligible corridors must be less than 750 miles; an enhancement of an existing route of less than 750 miles; the restoration of service over all or portions of a route formerly operated by Amtrak; or an increase of service frequency of a long-distance intercity passenger-rail route.

By law eligible entities that may participate in the program include Amtrak, states, groups of states, entities implementing interstate compacts, regional passenger-rail authorities, regional planning organizations, political subdivisions of a state, federally recognized Indian Tribes and possibly other entities.

The FRA expects to begin soliciting proposals to participate in the program during the last quarter of this year.

The guidelines published by the FRA sets forth 14 criteria that will be used to evaluate corridors.

These include whether the route was identified as part of a regional or interregional planning study; projected ridership, revenues, capital investment, and operating funding requirements; anticipated environmental, congestion mitigation and other public benefits; projected trip times and their competitiveness with other transportation modes; anticipated positive economic and employment impacts; committed or anticipated non-federal funding for operating and capital costs; and benefits to rural communities.

Also among the criteria are whether the corridor is included in a state’s approved state rail plan; whether the corridor serves historically unserved or underserved and low-income communities or areas of persistent poverty; whether the corridor would benefit or improve connectivity with existing or planned transportation services of other modes; whether the corridor connects at least 2 of the 100 most populated metropolitan areas; whether the corridor would enhance the regional equity and geographic diversity of intercity passenger rail service; whether the corridor is or would be integrated into the national rail passenger transportation system and would create benefits for other passenger rail routes and services; and whether a passenger rail operator has expressed support for the corridor.

FRA officials said the agency will “work with the entity that submitted the proposal, the relevant states, and, as appropriate, Amtrak to prepare or update a service development plan.”

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