Posts Tagged ‘Funding of rail passenger service’

Communities OK Funding for Rail Study

November 10, 2016

All Aboard Ohio repots that communities and counties in Ohio have been approving funding for a tier I environmental assessment for a proposed Chicago-Columbus high-performance passenger rail corridor.

OhioFunding pledges have already been approved in Indiana.

The assessment is the first step toward developing a major transportation project.

Backing the project has been the Northern Indiana/Ohio Passenger Rail Initiative, comprised of the nine largest cities on the preferred corridor.

Also taking part are the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission and Indiana Department of Transportation.

The project promoters are expected to seek a $2.56 million federal grant for the tier I assessment.

A high-performance rail corridor can involve building a new right of way or rehabilitating an existing rail line by adding safety features that would allow higher train speeds.

A tier I assessments identifies the most cost-effective, environmentally benign route(s), potential station sites and may include a service development plan.

AAO Sees Good News in New Transportation Bill

December 5, 2015

All Aboard Ohio says that the recently approved federal transportation bill could potentially affect rail programs in Ohio in a number of ways, including opening the door for expanded Amtrak service.

The rail passenger advocacy group said that the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act gives states and new financing tools for passenger rail and transit services.

AAO said that Amtrak service could be expanded modestly without the Ohio Department of Transportation having to take the lead on funding.

One section of the bill authorizes $20 million per year in operating funds to expand existing or resurrect previous passenger rail services.

AAO said that since 2000 federal budget cuts have reduced daily train miles in Ohio by 1,008, the second highest total in the nation behind Florida.

Two potential Amtrak service expansions that could be funded from that money, AAO said, include increasing the operating frequency of the Chicago-New York Cardinal from tri-weekly to daily and linking the Keystone and Wolverine Service lines via Pittsburgh, Youngstown, Cleveland, Toledo and Detroit.

Amtrak cannot on its own accord by law expand service if it requires more funding support.

But it can expand its network at the request of a member of Congress, a state department of transportation, or a consortium of regional/local governments.

AAO said federal funding for Ohio’s public transit agencies is expected to grow from $175 million in 2015 to $195 million per year by 2020.

That figure does not include grants that Ohio transit agencies, cities and metropolitan areas could land to fund new transit services and intermodal transportation centers.

The FAST Act also seeks to streamline federal funding reviews and open up rail infrastructure financing for train station-area real estate developments.

AAO said it is uncertain how this provision might affect rail project development affecting passenger services.

But the group noted that the section was pushed by Illinois lawmakers so that major improvements to Chicago Union Station could be eligible for Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing loans.

At present, AAO said, the RRIF program has $35 billion in lending authority that is not being used.

Those funds could potentially be used for station development and to shorten the application review times.

Foxx Calls for Funding of Passenger Rail

February 22, 2015

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx is calling for federal funding of rail passenger service during his “GROW America” bus tour.

Foxx called passenger rail “an important piece of our transportation puzzle.”

He said that it makes sense for cities and states to invest in passenger rail at a time of record Amtrak ridership. More people are riding public transportation than at any time in the past 50 years.

“Sure, we can continue investing less in our passenger rail system than we should and watch our country’s competitiveness slip lower and lower. Or, we can choose to build projects like the that would bring our passenger train services into the 21st century,” Foxx said during an appearance in Charlotte, N.C.