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OneRail: Increased investment in rail offers significant benefits

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The OneRail Coalition last week sent a letter (see below) to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patty Murray urging increased support for railroad investment in H.R. 3288, the FY2010 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill.

OneRail noted that freight
and passenger rail infrastructure improvements offer significant environmental,
energy and mobility benefits, and will create good jobs for American workers
particularly in states that have experienced losses in other sectors.



Members
of the OneRail Coalition include the Association of American Railroads, the
American Public Transportation Association, Amtrak, the American Short
Line and Regional Railroad Association, the National Association of Railroad
Passengers, the National Railroad Construction & Maintenance Association,
the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Railway Supply Institute, the States
for Passenger Rail Coalition, the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership,
and the United Transportation Union

Dear
Chairman Murray:

As
Congress considers Transportation and Housing and  Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations for  Fiscal Year 2010, the OneRail Coalition
urges that the maximum  amounts be
made available for railroad investment in the United States. Freight and
passenger rail infrastructure improvements offer significant environmental,
energy and mobility benefits, and will create good jobs for American workers
particularly in states that have experienced losses in other sectors. Most importantly,
the American public has expressed strong support for greater investment in our
nation’s rail networks.

We
respectfully request that you fund proposed FY 2010 Federal Railroad
Administration (FRA) grant programs at the following levels:

 • High Speed and Intercity Passenger
Rail $4.0 billion (including $50 million for HSR R&D).


Amtrak $1.84 billion.


Rail Safety Technology Grants $100 million.


Rail Line Relocation $40 million.


National Infrastructure Investment Grants 
$1.1 billion.

Funding
the High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail account at the House-proposed level
of $4 billion can make the most dramatic difference in augmenting our nation’s
mobility options and realizing the potential of higher-speed rail sooner. A higher
level of funding would demonstrate Congress’s commitment to sustaining the
President’s vision for more robust and competitive U.S. intercity passenger
rail networks, and support critical safety investments in our freight railroad
network necessary for higher-speed passenger rail, including Positive Train
Control.

The
authorized funding level for Amtrak is necessary to meet increased expectations
and responsibilities for passenger rail service and address mandates in the
Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008. OneRail urges the conferees
to adopt the full authorized amount for Amtrak for FY 2010.

Rail
Safety Technology grants should be funded at not less than the Senate-proposed
level of $50 million and optimally at $100 million reflecting the unfunded FY 2009
authorization to support the necessary installation of Positive Train Control. FRA’s
recent cost estimate of $10 billion for industry-wide PTC deployment, far
exceeding identified commensurate safety benefits, clearly demonstrates that
significant additional public funding will be necessary to meet this
Congressional mandate.

The
Rail Line Relocation and Improvement program should receive appropriations at
the House level of $40 million to permit continued enhancement to the nation’s
rail network benefiting communities and increasing network utility.

OneRail
urges the conferees to adopt the Senate recommendation of $1.1 billion for
national infrastructure investments to continue the transportation improvement
goals of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER)
program. The numerous and diverse applications submitted to USDOT for funding
under this initiative demonstrate the potential of rail and intermodal
projects, especially freight rail, to add capacity, increase safety, reduce
environmental and emissions impact, and save energy. Additional funding of $1.1
billion in the FY 2010 THUD appropriations measure would ensure that many of
these worthwhile projects could be funded and completed.

OneRail
finally asks that the conferees make rail passenger and freight infrastructure
projects eligible expenditures to the degree that general fund revenues help
maintain current federal surface transportation programs. Eligibility for
freight and passenger rail infrastructure for general funds allocated through
the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, where a public interest benefit is
demonstrated, provides sound precedent.

On
behalf of our member, we urge the conferees to support the highest funding
levels for rail infrastructure investment in the FY 2010 THUD appropriations
measure.

Anne
P. Canby, President

Surface
Transportation Policy Partnership

on behalf of the OneRail
Coalition

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