USDOT announces US$2.3bn in funding for intercity passenger rail across America

2 min read

The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) announcing the availability of almost US$2.3bn in funding to expand and modernize intercity passenger rail nationwide through the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Grant Program (Partnership Program).

Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this announcement marks the strongest commitment to date for the expansion of the national network of intercity passenger and high-speed rail projects. Selected projects will improve existing rail corridors and create new ones, broadening access to intercity passenger rail services for communities across the country.

“This is one of the two most significant investments in the past 50 years to modernize passenger train service across the country,” said US transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Americans deserve excellent passenger rail services, and through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we’re working to deliver it.”

The US High Speed Rail Association (USHSR) – responding to the NOFO announcement – said that the key funding opportunity could finally make high-speed rail a reality for millions of Americas.

“The growing number of electric bullet train projects across America are highly competitive for funding from the US$12bn program,” noted USHSR. “High-speed trains have cut oil demand and air pollution around the world by providing an electrified alternative to short-haul flights, single-occupancy vehicles, and highway and airport expansions.”

Administered by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Partnership Program has long funded the revitalization of rail assets, such as fixing track, structures, and grade crossings. Previous grants have funded rehabilitation type projects such as the Kalamazoo to Dearborn rail corridor in Michigan and the Piedmont Corridor in North Carolina. These routes and others are used by tens of millions of Americans each year, and new investments will increase the reliability and frequency of service and reduce delays.

President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law greatly expands the scope, funding, and vision of the Partnership Program. Beginning with the FY 2022 NOFO being announced, eligible entities can apply to expand and establish new intercity passenger and high-speed rail services.

In addition, projects that improve the safety, reliability, and performance of intercity passenger rail services and project planning elements, such as environmental review and final design, are also now eligible for funding under the Partnership Program.

“This Partnership Program NOFO offers exciting opportunities to expand federal support for intercity passenger and high-speed rail services to all parts of our nation,” said FRA administrator Amit Bose. “FRA will work closely with States and stakeholders to provide sustained and dedicated investments in this vital mode of transportation, and together, we will reshape America’s passenger rail network for generations to come.”

Today’s funding announcement comes after USDOT and FRA made available over US$1.4bn in Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement funds in September for projects that improve America’s freight and passenger rail network and strengthen supply chains. Additional Partnership Program funds for projects located on the Northeast Corridor will be made available later this year.

In total, FRA has announced more than US$607m million for 85 projects in 37 states and the District of Columbia this year and made available more than US$4.2bn in funding, jumpstarting the implementation of US$66bn in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investments.

Applications for the NOFO, which is published here, are due no later than 5:00pm ET, March 7, 2023.