Fleet Financing

Amtrak says a lot for Congress

Written by

William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

Amtrak has submitted its general and legislative annual report for fiscal 2002 and its five-year plan to Congress and the USDOT. The FY22 grant application proposes $ 3.88 billion for basic needs and funding to offset the impacts of the pandemic on Amtrak and its state and suburban partners. In addition, Amtrak has identified $ 1.55 billion in additional investment needed to fund what Amtrak calls its “bold reauthorization proposal to improve Northeast Corridor infrastructure and begin advancing new routes. corridor across the country. ”

Here are highlights of selected reauthorization requests and other items from Amtrak. General and legislative annual report and grant request for the financial year 2022, which can be downloaded here:

Financing and financing Credit authorization: Amtrak offers robust clearance levels for FY2022 – FY2026 for Amtrak and DOT programs.

Interurban Railways Trust Fund: Create a new trust fund to provide strong levels of multi-year, dedicated and predictable funding to support both the northeast corridor and the national grid. This financing mechanism will ensure parity with other surface transport modes (highways, most public transport, DOT security) which already receive their financing through a trust fund.

Railway Rehabilitation and Improvement Funding (RRIF) Improvements: Reform the RRIF to promote greater use of existing loan authorizations, in particular by reimbursing the credit risk premiums (CRP) of certain borrowers owed to them by the federal government; cover the CRP costs of some new loans (similar to TIFIA loans); expand and reform the transit-oriented development (TOD) lending authority, which could benefit both small and large communities; and clarify that the proceeds of the loan may be counted towards the non-federal share of the cost of a project for federal grant purposes.

Greater flexibility in how states can spend Federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) money: The offer stipulates the possibility of spending part of their funds from the HTF formula for inter-city passenger rail transport. Each state could “flex” a percentage of its relevant allocation down to the percentage of HTF funds that are not deposited from user fees.

Amtrak NEC Grant – Reauthorize Amtrak’s existing NEC grant at solid funding levels. With increased funding, Amtrak would continue to fund core renewal of its infrastructure assets as it does today, but we would also address the serviceability backlog (SOGR) and improvement issues. assets, which previously had inadequate funding levels in the past. 50 years have never allowed us to move forward.

All-electric NEC: Transfer all scheduled intercity and commuter rail services on the NEC mainline to electric propulsion equipment or other advanced technology by the start of fiscal year 2030, with reasonable exceptions. Develop plans, including timelines and funding requirements, to achieve “carbon-free” operations in Amtrak’s NEC territory (making it the first carbon-free intercity corridor in the United States operated by any mode of transportation) and the entire Amtrak network.

Temporary mitigation of pandemic risks for PRIIA Section 212: Authorize federal funds to Amtrak to help Amtrak’s NEC commuting partners with their basic capital charges (BCCs) as needed, as states recover from the effects of the pandemic. This is a similar approach to how Congress provided emergency assistance in fiscal 2021.

NEC Bridges, Stations and Tunnels (BeST) program: Authorize a new multimodal program to finance both inter-city passenger rail and public transport shares of the NEC’s major bridge, station and tunnel projects. This program would replace the need for Amtrak and transit agencies to separately secure funding through FRA, FTA and other competitive grant programs to advance these large, shared benefit projects.

Corridor development program: Provide funding under the Amtrak National Network Grant to launch, operate, improve and expand High Potential Corridor service. Using this funding, Amtrak can use its existing authorities to partner with FRA, states, communities and others to rapidly advance network improvement and growth, complementing the discretionary grant method. traditional federal government with an effective and proven path to network expansion. Under Amtrak’s proposal, the company could cover up to 100% of the initial capital and most operating costs over a five-year period, after which the new service or frequency would continue on a cost-sharing methodology. cost update to be developed by the State-Amtrak Interurban Passenger Train Committee (SAIPRC) in accordance with Section 209 of the PRIIA in fiscal year 2022. Amtrak would conduct this program across the country in close collaboration with States and other partners, so as to 1) reflect their needs and plans, and 2) give all parties the flexibility to develop and agree on an appropriate division of responsibilities, with either Amtrak or its partners leading a given development, if applicable. Relevant processes would be developed or carried out in cooperation with FRA; development plans for a given corridor would be subject to final approval by USDOT. The proposed program could also support increasing the frequency of service for less than daily intercity routes and certain specific investments in corridor service (e.g., new road segments in Canada or Mexico) at no cost to long term for Amtrak partners.

Temporary assistance for recovery in the event of a pandemic for section 209 of the PRIAA: Authorize federal funds to Amtrak for three years to help Amtrak partner states meet costs under Sec. 209 from PRIIA; costs have increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting reductions in ticket revenue.

State-supported fleet: As part of Amtrak’s National Grid Grant, authorize sufficient funding for Amtrak to support the ongoing acquisition of new single-tier trainsets to replace our more than 40-year-old Amfleet I equipment.

State Supported Service and SAIPRC Improvements: Carry out several updates to promote greater transparency and increased stakeholder participation, including: provide for an update of the current SAIPRC cost methodology policy; and ensure that the SAIPRC periodically updates its goals, objectives and rules governing its work; explicitly authorizing the SAIPRC to carry out certain activities in the absence of DOT and FRA representatives; and other improvements.

Long distance service: As part of Amtrak’s National Network Grant, authorize sufficient funds to cover operating and capital costs for all 15 Amtrak long-haul routes. Recommended clearance levels would support new long-haul passenger equipment to replace Superliners and Amfleet IIs.

Long distance customer improvement program: In addition to the aforementioned funding for long-distance service, authorize a separate program to improve the customer experience on long-distance trains. This program would support: Wi-Fi service; experiential food and beverage service; refreshes the interior; and improved stations, among other improvements.

Applying preferences: To better enforce the existing right of preference of Amtrak trains in dispatching to the tracks of a host railway (essentially, the right to go first when two trains interfere with each other), allow Amtrak to bring civil actions against hosts who do not provide such preference. (Distributive preference is key to getting good results on time.) The current and little-used power of the United States Attorney General to enforce preference rights on behalf of Amtrak would remain in place.

Additional trains: Create a new, impartial and clearly defined process by which the Surface Transportation Board can resolve disputes between Amtrak and host railways regarding Amtrak’s use of such host’s tracks or facilities to provide new or additional service. Such a process would determine whether a proposed use would unreasonably interfere with the movement of goods and promptly provide access to Amtrak (if there is no impairment) or determine remedy for the identified deficiencies, with Amtrak granted access. as soon as this repair is implemented.

Positive train control: Within five years, require Amtrak and its host railways to use a PTC system or achieve PTC-equivalent safety levels on all rail lines on which regular Amtrak intercity passenger trains operate (including in Canada and in Mexico) other than rail lines inside passenger terminals.

Security enhancements: Authorize numerous new and / or modified provisions to improve the safety of passenger trains, in particular: the standardization of operating practices and the study of a possible standardization of signals; improve the collection and sharing of industry-wide safety data; resolve problems at certain high level incident level crossings; make assault on passenger rail personnel a specific federal crime; and the development of occupant protection systems regulations for new passenger rolling stock, where applicable, among other changes.

Workforce Development: Include strong funding levels for FRA’s Research and Development account and explicitly state that workforce development is an eligible activity in its credit authorization.

“As Amtrak prepares to mark its 50th anniversary of service, we look forward to important milestones on the path to a modern and growing passenger rail network, such as the arrival of our new To that and long-haul diesel locomotive fleets and the commencement of work on the Portal North Bridge project of the Gateway program in partnership with NJ Transit, ”said Bill Flynn, CEO of Amtrak, in his letter to Congress. “With your continued support for investments like these, Amtrak can play a pivotal role in restoring the economic vitality of the United States, reducing the country’s carbon footprint, and connecting underserved communities to the rest of the world. the economy.

Download Amtrak’s five-year plans:

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