Federal Funding for Passenger Rail

May 04, 2017
Dylan Hayward

A budget proposal for the rest of FY17 has passed Congress and is awaiting the signature of President Trump. Once signed it will provide increased funding for transportation compared to FY16. This is a far cry from the ‘skinny budget’ the Trump Administration released in March, which threatened to eliminate funding for passenger trains throughout the country.

We’d like to thank the advocacy community for responding loudly to these threats. Your actions have led to a budget that provides an increase in transportation funding that we can continue to build on. The bill will appropriate;

  • $1.5 billion for Amtrak which is an increase of $115 million over FY 2016 levels.
  • $500 million for the popular TIGER Grants equal to FY 2016 levels. These funds will go towards innovative projects.
  • $68 million for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Grants, which covers a broad range of projects. Funding for this program could be used for PTC, station improvements, capital construction, rail planning and more.
  • $5 million for the Restoration and Enhancements Grant program that will provide operational assistance for up to six new, reestablished or expanded passenger rail services.
  • $2.4 billion for the New Starts program, which provides funding for all current transit projects that have a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) and projects expected to receive FFGA awards.

This is a strong response from Congress in support of passenger rail after the Trump Administration’s disturbing budget proposal. We will continue to insist that the Trump Administration increase investment in transportation that allows us to travel more often, more actively and more affordably.

Best,

Dylan Hayward
Program Manager

Last Week at MHSRA:

Our Executive Director Rick Harnish testified before the Illinois Senate Transportation Committee in support of SB508, which would create an Illinois High Speed Rail Authority to oversee the implementation of high-speed rail.

Articles We Enjoyed:

Trump is Making Huge Promises About Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure. Does That Include Trains?
"Trump has said repeatedly that he hopes to bolster all kinds of rail projects, but train advocates are skeptical, and see in the president’s new budget proposal the same old focus on car infrastructure — a focus that comes at the expense of certain key elements of the rail network."

Arrival of Las Vegas Raiders Breates New Life Into High-Speed Rail Project
"A high-speed rail project long left for dead by critics might have new life, thanks to a key study, the arrival of the Trump administration and an unexpected wild card — the Las Vegas Raiders."

Siemens’ Charger Locomotives Begin Rolling in California, Illinois
"The Charger units are expected to go into full-time service later this spring,"

The Human Cost of Losing Amtrak
“Basically Trump has said that if you don’t drive, you don’t deserve federal money,”

Imagine Zipping from Seattle to Portland by High-Speed Rail
"Although there’s long been talk of integrating the region by a high-speed rail line, this year the state Legislature has carved out $300,000 in the state’s transportation budget to begin studying the costs and benefits of a new rail system."

Caltrain ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ on Federal Support for Rail Investment
"The inclusion of funding for the project in the 2017 budget ‘provides Caltrain with the best indication yet that federal investment in transit infrastructure will continue’"

Upcoming Events:

MARP Monthly Membership Meeting

The Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers is hosting a free event at Chicago’s Union Station on May 13,  11:30AM - 2PM.

The presentations will focus on the FRA’s Midwest Regional Rail Planning Study and the Siemens Charger Diesel-Electric Locomotive that will be running throughout the Midwest soon.

Please RSVP at marprail@yahoo.com

Homewood Rail Fest

A day that rail enthusiasts of all ages will enjoy all things trains!

When: May 20th, 9am - 3pm

Where: Homewood-Flossmoor Park District Auditorium, 2010 Chestnut, Homewood, IL

MHSRA will have a table at the event and would appreciate the help of anyone in the area. Please contact Dylan@JustBuildIt.org if you're interested in volunteering.

Dylan Hayward
Program Manager
Midwest High Speed Rail Association
4765 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625
773-334-6758