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“But what would that money get us?”

April 12, 2024

In a world of guaranteed IIJA funding, Congress' annual budget process is still critical to the success of rail programs.

As we ramp up for next year’s Congressional budget process, we wanted to help the public better understand how the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) rail funding is being spent, and what’s at stake in this year’s appropriations process.

There are billions being spent by Amtrak and States to upgrade, modernize, and expand the U.S. passenger rail network. While there has been a lag in distributing grant money and providing detailed reporting on what is being funded, the U.S. Department of Transportation has been hard at work standing up these new programs, and we’re now starting to see how this investment is reshaping America’s rail network. The Federal Railroad Administration has awarded nearly $30 billion in rail grants so far, awarded 69 planning and development grants for passenger rail corridors across 44 states, and released a Fiscal Year 2024 detailed spend plan for the capital funding that flows directly to Amtrak.

With all this guaranteed IIJA funding, it’s important to understand why passenger advocates still need to support discretionary funding through the annual Congressional budget process. It’s a task that is even more critical following the 2023 effort by extreme members within the House GOP caucus to slash Amtrak’s funding by 64 percent—including a 92 percent cut to Northeast Corridor operations! Thankfully, that effort was turned back through a bipartisan effort to support Amtrak's funding. Rail Passengers is working to ensure that support continues in 2024.

As part of that effort, Rail Passengers staff put together an explanatory statement to help educate Congressional staffers and members of the public on:

  • Why operational funding matters in a world of guaranteed IIJA capital funding, and what we would lose if Congress short-changes operations;
  • How providing the authorized funding levels will allow Amtrak to speed project delivery, particularly in states where there isn’t a strong track record of developing passenger rail services; and
  • What average Americans can do to support the work being done to build a better U.S. passenger rail network.

Take a look, then join our campaign through our online advocacy platform!