Amit Bose (above), administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, said his agency expects to more than double the amount of grant funding currently available for passenger and high-speed rail projects, as well as extend the application deadline for that funding to April 21.
[Above photo by AASHTO]
“We are publishing a revised notice of funding opportunity next week that will add an additional $2.2 billion in funding to the existing $2.3 billion in funding we made available in December 2022,” Bose explained during his keynote address at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Council on Rail Transportation 2023 Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C.
He emphasized that extra funding is part of the Biden administration’s “strong commitment” to expand passenger rail service as part of the nation’s multimodal transportation network “now and in the future.”
Bose also stressed that he would be “laser-focused” in the coming years to ensure rail projects get funded by dollars provided by the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA enacted in November 2021.
“This is an exciting time for rail in light of IIJA funding,” he said. “But we must make clear the urgency of the moment in terms of delivering on projects funded by those dollars we fought so hard to obtain. We cannot have situations where we overpromise and then under-deliver – there is nothing worse for us than that. So set realistic [rail project] deadlines and expectations. Shoot and aim high but, at the end of the day, make sure to meet those project deadlines.”
Bose also assured gathered members of the rail community that “ears are wide open at the U.S. Department of Transportation to listen to your lived experience so the federal government can get dollars out in smart, proactive, and thoughtful ways without fraud and abuse.”
He also noted that it will be critical for states to work more closely together with federal agencies, local partners, and private sector organizations to advance the rail project planning process more smoothly.
“We are encouraging states to work with Amtrak, local stakeholders, and nation’s largest freight railroads to continue advancing passenger rail service throughout the country,” he said.
“We are also focused on expanding long distance [passenger rail] services now as well – that is a huge pivot from the previous focus on reducing such services,” Bose added, noting that FRA expects to have a study done by end of 2023 highlighting ways to improve Amtrak’s daily long-distance passenger rail services.
“We are not slowing down this year,” he added. “For 2023 we are going to have more project selections and funding opportunities made possible by the IIJA ready to go to help us grow a safer, cleaner, and more equitable national rail system.”