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S. 1626 (114th): Railroad Reform, Enhancement, and Efficiency Act

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Jun 18, 2015.


Railroad Reform, Enhancement, and Efficiency Act

This bill reauthorizes FY2016-FY2019 grants to the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) for:

a Northeast Corridor investment account, a state-supported account, a long-distance account, an other national network activities account, and national infrastructure and safety investments. Appropriations are also authorized for the same period for:

National Transportation Safety Board rail investigations, and Amtrak's Office of the Inspector General. The bill revises requirements for the rail cooperative research program. Allocation of a specified amount is made for each fiscal year to the Department of Transportation (DOT) for railroad research and development programs.

Amtrak shall establish internal controls to ensure its costs, revenues, and other compensation are allocated to its Northeast Corridor train services or infrastructure, Amtrak-operated state-supported routes and long-distance routes, and other Amtrak national network activities.

DOT shall establish substantive and procedural requirements for Northeast Corridor, Amtrak routes, and national network investment capital grant requests.

DOT shall establish:

a Northeast Corridor investment account, a state-supported account, a long-distance account, and an other national network activities account. Amtrak shall prepare:

final five-year business line plans for Northeast Corridor train services, Amtrak-operated state-supported routes and long-distance routes, and Amtrak ancillary services; and five-year asset plans for Amtrack infrastructure and equipment. DOT shall establish the State-Supported Route Committee.

The bill revises alternate passenger rail service pilot program requirements.

DOT shall develop a program for issuing three-year competitive operating assistance grants to eligible public and private entities to initiate, restore, or enhance intercity rail passenger service.

DOT shall develop a federal-state partnership program for issuing competitive grants to the aforementioned entities for capital projects to replace, rehabilitate, or repair major infrastructure assets for providing intercity passenger rail service.

The bill requires the Northeast Corridor Commission to:

develop a capital investment plan for the Northeast Corridor main line between Boston, Massachusetts, and the Virginia Avenue interlocking in the District of Columbia, and the Northeast Corridor branch lines connecting to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Springfield, Massachusetts, and Spuyten Duyvil, New York; and update, once every 10 years, a Northeast Corridor service development plan. DOT shall develop and distribute to each state a state-specific highway-rail grade crossing action plan to improve safety.

DOT may make grants to eligible public and private entities to assist in financing the cost of rail projects to improve the safety, efficiency, or reliability of passenger and freight rail transportation systems.

Track, Railroad, and Infrastructure Network Act

The bill exempts improvements to, maintenance, rehabilitation, or operation of railroad or rail transit lines (but not stations) that are in use or were historically used for the transportation of goods or passengers from federal policies and requirements for the preservation of public park and recreation lands, wildlife and waterfowl refuges, and historic sites.

Railroad Infrastructure Financing Improvement Act

The bill amends the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976 to revise Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program requirements.