President Obama Calls for High-Speed Passenger Trains

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President Obama released a strategic plan outlining his vision for high-speed city-to-city rail network.  The plan identifies $8 billion provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act  (ARRA) and $1 billion a year for five years requested in the federal budget. The funds would be a down payment to jump-start a potential world-class passenger rail system and set the direction of transportation policy for the future, the Obama Administration said.  The strategic plan will be followed by detailed guidance for state and local applicants. By late summer, the Federal Railroad Administration will begin awarding the first round of grants.

The report identifies 10 high-speed rail corridors as potential recipients of federal funding, including: California, Pacific Northwest, South Central U.S., Gulf Coast, Chicago Hub Network, Florida, Southeast U.S., Keystone (Pennsylvania), Empire (New York) and Northern New England. Also, opportunities exist for the Northeast Corridor from Washington, D.C. to Boston to compete for funds to improve the nation’s only existing high-speed rail service.

The Obama administration also launched a competitive process to drive local communities to develop their high-speed rail potential. The administration is urging states and local communities to put together plans for a network of 100-mile to 600-mile corridors, which will compete for the federal dollars. The merit-driven process will result in federal grants as soon as late summer 2009.

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