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MIPRC submits comments to T&I Committee on reauthorization of PRIIA

Last week, MIPRC sent a letter to the U.S. Transportation & Infrastructure rail subcommittee chair and ranking member (which was then sent to all committee members), commenting on HR 5449, the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2014 (PRRIA).

The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee introduced HR 5449 on September 11. The legislation reauthorizes the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA, which expired in October 2013). An overview of the bill, as presented by the T&I Committee, can be found here.

The bill is quite streamlined from the 2008 PRIIA law, which reauthorized Amtrak and created the FRA grant programs for intercity and high speed rail, along with the Section 209 state-supported routes requirements, Section 305 Next Generation Equipment Pool), section 306 (rail cooperative research program), etc.

The bill was on a fast track – the T&I Committee scheduled the bill for mark-up less than a week after the bill was introduced.

Reauthorization of the landmark Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA) is an extremely important issue to MIPRC and, of course, its states. In addition to reauthorizing Amtrak, the 2008 legislation authorized all the federal capital assistance programs that our states have applied for and received grants (when funding has been available) to begin building out the Midwest’s plans for faster, more frequent passenger rail service. Other important programs, such as the Next Generation Equipment Pool Committee – which has developed standard specifications for passenger rail equipment and enabled joint purchases such as what the Midwest will soon benefit from – were also created by the 2008 legislation.

MIPRC's letter outlines some important aspects to accolade in HR 5449 as introduced, but also some troubling additions and omissions. A T&I Committee listing of organizations that submitted comments on PRRIA , and copies of the letters, can be found here.

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