High-speed rail could get $205B in proposed legislation

Dive Brief:

  • U.S. Reps. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., and Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., introduced legislation Monday to invest $205 billion in high-speed rail over five years.
  • More than 25 House members signed on as sponsors, all Democrats, representing 16 states including Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Nevada, Oregon and Virginia.
  • Moulton and DelBene outlined the potential benefits of high-speed rail in a news release, including clean transportation between city centers, economic development around train stations and making the United States more competitive with China.

Dive Insight:

High-speed rail projects have gotten a boost lately with more than $6 billion in federal funds going toward two projects in California and Nevada, which are among seven projects in various stages of planning and construction across the country. Those projects also include Amtrak’s effort to revive the dormant Texas Central project to connect the state’s two largest cities, Dallas and Houston.

The Moulton-DelBene plan would invest $41 billion annually, giving priority to high-speed rail project applicants based on equity, resilience and economic development potential. Regions not served by commercial aviation or where the U.S. Department of Transportation subsidizes aviation routes through the Essential Air Service program would also be given priority, the release said. The bill would also include incentives for transit-oriented development by state and local transportation agencies and the private sector. 

“By investing in a national high-speed rail network, we are not only alleviating strain on our highways and airports and creating safer communities, but we are also strengthening productivity and lowering carbon emissions,” DelBene said in a statement. 

High-speed rail advocates expressed their support of the legislation as well. Andy Kunz, CEO of the U.S. High Speed Rail Association, noted in an email that Moulton first introduced the bill in 2021 with three co-sponsors and now has 25 co-sponsors for the reintroduced bill. “The growing support for the American High-Speed Rail Act is great news,” he said. 

Jim Mathews, president and CEO of the Rail Passengers Association, said in a statement, “People should have the freedom to choose safe, reliable, fast, environmentally friendly trains as an alternative to congested and dangerous highways and expensive airlines.” 

During a subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing in November, members of both parties expressed support for high-speed rail. Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, said, “I like the idea of that rail line between Houston and Dallas.” 

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