Friday, January 29, 2010

AAR: High-speed rail grants recognize rail's vital role in economy

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(The following is a statement from Association of American Railroads President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger in response to President Barack Obama's award of $8 billion in federal grants to 31 states around the U.S. for high-speed and intercity passenger rail projects.)

"Moving more people and goods by rail is good for America. The Obama Administration's announcement recognizes the vital importance of rail to our nation's economic recovery.

"At a time when our country is working toward economic recovery, rail is clearly a good investment. Each $1 billion invested in growing the nation's rail system creates 20,000 jobs. Today, freight railroads support 1.2 million jobs and generate nearly $265 billion in total U .S. annual economic activity.

"In addition to supporting essential jobs in communities all across the country, rail provides tremendous public benefits. We take trucks off the road, easing highway congestion and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. We also provide the foundation for President Obama's transportation vision that enables more livable, interconnected communities with greater efficiency and choices for people and businesses.

"The federal grants announced Jan. 28 will offer a unique opportunity to expand intercity passenger rail service in a manner that better meets the needs of both the general public and users of rail services.

"The Federal Railroad Administration's guidelines for high-speed rail make clear that states applying for grants for intercity and high-speed rail projects are required to have written agreements with the host freight railroads on issues such as safety, infrastructure capacity, compensation and liability. 

"This ultimately will help ensure that higher speed rail does not compromise the vital present and future role of freight rail in America's economic recovery."

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