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Rail Passengers Applaud Ambition of INVEST Act

June 4, 2021

For Immediate Release (21-10)

Contact: Sean Jeans-Gail (202) 320-2723; [email protected]

Rail Passengers Applaud Grand Ambition of INVEST in America Act

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure introduced the “Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST in America) Act,” an incredibly ambitious surface transportation reauthorization bill that would inject $547 billion into the nation’s transportation infrastructure. The committee will markup the bill next Wednesday, June 9.

The bill provides $95 billion for passenger and freight rail. This includes $32 billion for Amtrak, $25 billion for a next-generation passenger rail grant program to upgrade and grow service, and $25 billion dedicated towards bridges, stations and tunnels.

“We applaud Chairs DeFazio and Payne, and the entire committee and staff, for their work in drafting an outstanding rail title capable of addressing the needs of America’s passengers,” said Jim Mathews, President and CEO of Rail Passengers. “The INVEST in America Act recognizes that a U.S. rail program will only succeed if it benefits all Americans everywhere, in towns big and small. This proposal has the ambition and the scope to expand and increase rail service in the nation’s most congested urban corridors while simultaneously ensuring that rural and small towns have access to reliable, quality trains, even creating transit set asides for tribal lands and rural communities. Infrastructure is a key driver of economic activity and equitable access to opportunity; this bill ensures that these benefits will be felt by towns across the U.S., and puts voices from those towns at the table when transportation decisions are made.”


(in millions of dollars)







Amtrak - Northeast Corridor







Amtrak - National Network







Amtrak - Subtotal







Amtrak - OIG







Passenger Rail Improvement, Modernization, and Expansion (PRIME) grants







Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grants







Bridges, Stations, and Tunnels (BeST) grants







Restoration + Enhancement grants







RRIF - Credit Risk Premiums







FRA - Safety + Operations







Yearly Totals








In addition to dramatically increasing funding, the bill also includes several policy provisions and Amtrak reforms that Rail Passengers has long advocated for, including:

  • Clarify Amtrak’s statutorily defined mission: the committee stipulates that Amtrak’s mission is to provide a national service, responding to proposals by former Amtrak leadership to eliminate long-distance service. The INVEST Act clarifies thatlong-distance intercity passenger rail provides economic benefits to rural communities and offers intercity travel opportunities where such options are often limited, making long-distance intercity passenger rail an important part of the national transportation system,” stating further that “the Northeast Corridor, long-distance routes, and State-supported routes are interconnected and collectively provide national rail passenger transportation.”
  • Amtrak food and beverage reform: establishes a working group charged with developing recommendations, and issuing a report within one year, on how to improve onboard food and beverage services, and requires Amtrak to ensure that all long-distance passengers traveling overnight have access to hot meals, not just sleeping car passengers, and it removes statutory language limiting Amtrak’s ability to provide food and beverage service due to costs.
  • Amtrak Board of Directors: INVEST brings geographic balance to Amtrak’s board, reserving positions for a mayor or governor from the NEC, a mayor or governor from the NN, Amtrak labor, an individual with a history of regular Amtrak ridership and an understanding of the concerns of intercity rail passengers, an experienced railroad industry professional, and an indivudla with financial and business experience who has also demonstrated interest in Amtrak’s success.
  • Amtrak preference enforcement: ensures passengers get to their destinations on time by providing Amtrak the legal means to ensure its statutory right of preferential dispatch.
  • Host railroad access reform: provides a streamlined process for Amtrak to access host railroad infrastructure, authorizing the STB to determine whether additional trains unreasonably impair freight transportation and evaluate what additional capital investments are required to add passenger service to a corridor.
  • State-supported routes operated by Amtrak: increases transparency in costs for state-supported Amtrak routes and calls for procedures to improve financial planning.
  • Amtrak Office of Community Outreach: requires Amtrak to establish an Office of Community Outreach to engage and build relationships with communities impacted by Amtrak operations, including outreach and engagement around projects of community significance.
  • Interstate rail compacts. incentivizes states to create interstate compacts to facilitate multi-state rail planning and development. Directs the Secretary to provide up to $500,000 in administrative assistance for up to 10 interstate rail compacts to improve, promote, and develop intercity passenger rail service through initiating, restoring, or enhancing such service.
  • State rail planning formula funds: INVEST directs 1.5 percent of all competitive rail grant funding (PRIME, CRISI, BeST, Restoration and Enhancement) into formula funding for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, for intercity passenger rail planning, with the formula is determined by a state’s share of national rail route miles, population, and Amtrak’s fiscal year 2019 ridership. This will provides states that are lagging behind in the development of a state rail plan with the resources to catch up.