Biden’s infrastructure plan gets mixed reviews from rail industry groups

Written by David C. Lester, Managing Editor
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Federal funding continues to support transit systems as they deal with impact of Covid-19.
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The Association of American Railroads (AAR), the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA), and Amtrak issued statements yesterday expressing their views on President Biden's "Build Back Better" infrastructure investment plan.

The Association of American Railroads

“Today, President Biden announced his plan to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure and make our transportation systems more sustainable. While railroads support sensible infrastructure investment and associated efforts to address climate change, the nation’s privately owned freight railroads raised serious concerns about the administration’s initial proposal to pay for the spending.

“’America’s railroads have long recognized the need for robust, sustainable funding back into the nation’s integrated transportation network,’ said AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies. ‘President Biden’s proposal makes clear his administration’s priority for making these much-needed investments to restore our highways, bridges and roads, and improve our ports. At the same time, mission number one is fueling an economic recovery. Railroads would urge the administration and Congress to abandon these divisive, unrelated funding sources and instead work toward bipartisan solutions to restore the Highway Trust Fund to a true user-pays system.’

“Sustained by nearly $25 billion in annual capital expenditures and maintenance, the nation’s privately owned freight railroads remain top of class among the nation’s infrastructure sectors. While the freight rail industry does not face the same funding challenges as other sectors, railroads stand as ready partners to craft well-designed, viable solutions that will keep our economy and nation moving forward. The right policies can ensure a healthy, multi-modal infrastructure network and secure the sustained investment necessary to raise the grade for the nation’s infrastructure.”

The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association

“’The ASLRRA and the nation’s 600+ small business short line freight railroads welcome the President’s infrastructure proposal, the American Jobs Plan,’ said Chuck Baker, President, ASLRRA. ‘Short lines are a critical part of the nation’s infrastructure, driving economic growth across the country, as we serve thousands of shippers in the critical manufacturing, agriculture, and energy industries, and thousands of communities, particularly in small town and rural America. We look forward to working with the Administration and Congress in a bipartisan way as they develop and consider this proposal. Short lines can help accomplish many of the nation’s most important goals, such as economic development, jobs growth, safety, and environmental sustainability, and we will look to help steer this plan in a way that recognizes and prioritizes those possibilities.’”


“[Yesterday] afternoon, President Biden released his American Jobs Plan, including plans for infrastructure investment, economic recovery, climate change, and social equity, and $80 billion designated specifically for rail.

Amtrak’s vision to grow rail service and connect new city pairs across America rises to the urgent challenges of our time, and will provide new and improved train service to millions of additional passengers. Additionally, the Northeast Corridor (NEC), a critical transportation link for the Northeast’s major metropolitan economies, has dozens of bridges, stations and tunnels that are beyond their design life and in need of immediate replacement or rehabilitation.

“If Congress provides the funding proposed in the President’s plan, Amtrak would be able to bring the NEC to a state of good repair and improve trip times, and would also expand Amtrak to underserved communities across the nation.  This would create jobs, improve the quality of life, reduce carbon emissions and generate economic growth.  

“From Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn: ‘President Biden’s infrastructure plan is what this nation has been waiting for. Amtrak must rebuild and improve the Northeast Corridor and our National Network and expand our service to more of America. The NEC’s many major tunnels and bridges – most of which are over a century old – must be replaced and upgraded to avoid devastating consequences for our transportation network and the country. In addition, Amtrak has a bold vision to bring energy-efficient, world-class intercity rail service to up to 160 new communities across the nation, as we also invest in our fleet and stations across the U.S.  With this federal investment, Amtrak will create jobs and improve equity across cities, regions, and the entire country – and we are ready to deliver.  America needs a rail network that offers frequent, reliable, sustainable and equitable train service. Now is our time, let’s make rail the solution.’”

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