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Legislative Resources

March 25, 2020

Legislative Resources

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  1. Coronavirus Relief Bill

  2. Fiscal Year 2021 Legislative Grant Request

  3. Surface Transportation Reauthorization

  4. Informational One-Pagers

Coronavirus Relief Bill

The 28,000 members of the Rail Passengers Association are extremely appreciative of the resources Congress is providing for intercity rail operators and transit agencies, which meet or exceed our COVID19 request, including:

Amtrak Grants - $1.018 billion

  • Northeast Corridor - $492 million;

  • National Network - $526 million;

    • State Supported: $239 million

Mass Transit Grants - $25 billion

  • Urban Area - 13.8 billion

  • Rural Area - $12.0 billion

  • State of Good Repair - $7.5 billion

  • Fast-Growth & High-Density State - $1.7 billion

We’re actively tracking any additional needs at RailPassengers.org/COVID19, and look forward to ensuring that these systems are able to return to full service once travel restrictions are eventually eased.

Rail Passengers believes that intercity passenger rail and transit have an important role to play in getting our economy back on track. As Congress considers further phases of coronavirus response, we will be developing a list of shovel-ready rail projects that are able to move quickly if funding becomes available. These projects will get Americans back to work by creating construction and manufacturing. They are also investments in a better, more efficient U.S. transportation system that will return dividends for generations to come.

Fiscal Year 2021 Legislative Grant Request

With a record 32.5 million Amtrak passengers carried in 2019, a record 499 million passenger trips for commuter rail, and rail transit systems struggling to deal with the number of passengers, we felt we were in a good place to ask for a surge in investment. The Rail Passengers Association is asking Congress to continue funding rail transportation at or above the levels provided in the Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations Bill.


The Rail Passengers Association is also requesting - in the absence of a rail trust fund - predictable, dedicated advanced funding to improve the ability of Amtrak and states to plan capital expenditures and manage infrastructure projects as well as strengthening the current Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant program.

Click here to read our entire FY2021 request which also includes plans for innovative infrastructure financing and a number of necessary legislative proposals.

Surface Transportation Reauthorization

While the legislative window for 2020 may be quickly closing, Rail Passengers is advocating for a number of policies to be considered for the upcoming FAST Act reauthorization.

This includes:

  • On-Time Performance and Fairness for Passengers: granting Amtrak a Private Right of Action to sue the freight railroads to enforce its statutory preference.
  • Creation of a Right of Way Acquisition Program: create a federal grant program that would allow states and municipalities to purchase abandoned and underutilized corridors from freight railroads.
  • Equipment Modernization: establishing a stable funding mechanism to allow for critical investments in Amtrak equipment that will meet public demand for reliable, energy-efficient equipment with modern amenities.

To read our entire Reauthorization proposal, please click here

Informational One-Pagers

Passenger rail fact sheets, updated for 2020, produced by the Association’s professional staff.

  • Economic Benefits

    • A Connected America is not only good for passengers but good for America’s cities and towns, an economic engine in the communities it serves. The U.S. transportation status quo is broken—the nationwide cost of highway gridlock has grown to $179 billion a year, or $1,080 per commuter. And the cost isn’t just in dollars; the average commuter spends 54 hours per year stuck in traffic.

  • Environmental Benefits

    • Modern passenger rail can carry large numbers of people longer and faster, more efficiently than ever before. Whether using fuel-efficient diesel engines or electrified train corridors, passenger rail does more to mitigate air pollution than automobiles or aircraft. Properly funded and developed, energy-efficient rail networks can help cut fuel use by the transportation sector, and lower carbon emissions.

  • High-Speed Rail

    • High-Speed Rail is an efficient mode of transportation that can move a large number of people quickly along densely developed corridors. In the U.S., high-speed rail technology would allow us to be more competitive in the global marketplace, while strengthening local economies. However, decades of underinvestment in rail has left the U.S. lagging.

  • National Network & Rural Mobility

    • Amtrak’s National Network forms the foundation of passenger rail service in the U.S., connecting congested urban areas and bringing economically viable mobility to rural areas and small towns. It is important to note that many of these areas are becoming more isolated from major cities as regional airline and intercity bus service disappears.

  • Northeast Corridor & Gateway

    • The current NEC infrastructure is at a turning point, requiring new funding for a variety of rail projects, including two new Hudson River Tunnel tubes and rehabilitation of the existing 110-year old tunnel. Should the massive rail infrastructure effort not move forward, the entirety of NEC travel could come to a grinding halt

  • On-Time Performance

    • Poor service from many host railroads has caused chronic and excessive delays for millions of riders who rely on the Amtrak system. In 2018, Amtrak trains were delayed by freight trains on host railroads more than 100,000 times. Interference by freight trains is the most common source of delay for Amtrak passengers and the largest cause of poor on-time performance of Amtrak trains.