letter to house Transportation Committee
- Invest $41 billion annually in high-speed and higher-speed rail through grants administered by the Federal Railroad Administration over 5 years, with 75% of the funds dedicated to true high-speed rail;
- Prioritize the evaluation of high-speed rail grant applicants based on equity, resilience, sustainability, and economic development potential;
- Ensure all investments in high-speed rail projects that receive Federal funding are subject to existing labor laws, Railway Labor Act, Railroad Retirement rules, and all work falls to existing rail unions;
- Prioritize high-speed rail grants for regions not serviced by the aviation industry or where the government subsidizes aviation routes;
- Create funding flexibility and transit-oriented development incentives for nonfederal partners, including state and local transportation agencies and private partners;
- Develop comprehensive, performance-based safety regulations and standards for high-speed rail to reduce project costs and expedite development.
- Standardize the definition of HSR across applicable statutes and produce federal HSR standards and regulations to ensure alignment of HSR development in the U.S.;
- Increase predictability of funding for projects that require multi-year investments;
- Allow the designation of new corridors, through a strategic, economically rigorous process, in order to foster a growing national HSR network.
We respectfully recommend that you incorporate these provisions into the infrastructure bill the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee will mark up later this month. We also agree with Chairman DeFazio that Congress should remain focused on developing a national program and vision for high-speed rail. In order to implement such a vision, we recommend the establishment of a new High-Speed Rail Development Authority (HSRDA) within USDOT to direct and coordinate the national program in partnership with the states. The HSRDA would serve as the rail network’s developer and manager and would be tasked with initiating new high-speed rail projects, conducting route studies, filing for permits, assembling land, hiring contractors and consultants, hiring and managing concessionaires to operate the trains, and maintaining the infrastructure. This includes streamlining the approvals process by allowing simultaneous approvals, shortened timelines, and single agency approvals where possible. Finally, we call on the Transportation Committee to establish a Rail Trust Fund as the vehicle to build out a national high-speed rail network across America. This Fund would be structured like the Highway Trust Fund established in 1956, which fully funded the construction of the Interstate Highway System directly out of the General Fund. The HSRDA should administer the Rail Trust Fund and use the initial $205 Billion in seed funds to launch five high-speed rail projects of national significance. Successful economies demand efficient and effective transportation systems. Highspeed rail has proven effective worldwide. The American High-Speed Rail Act takes a dramatic step forward as an investment in our future transportation needs that will be at the same time a massive jobs-creating engine helping revive and reinvigorate multiple sectors - steel production, manufacturing, and our industrial base - with rippling economic benefits. During this time of crisis, we need to think big again. Sincerely,
-Jim Hoffa, General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters-Dennis Pierce, President, Teamsters Rail Conference-Carlos Aguilar, CEO, Texas Central-Patrick Goddard, CEO, Brightline Trains-Andy Kunz, CEO, U.S. High Speed Rail Association-John Porcari, Former Deputy Transportation Secretary, USDOT -Jim Wunderman, President & CEO, Bay Area Council -Michael Friedberg, Executive Director, Coalition for the Northeast Corridor -Paige Malott, Chair, Cascadia Rail-Bob Yaro, President, North Atlantic Rail Alliance-David Levine, President, American Sustainable Business Council-Jerry Boles, President, Brother of Railroad Signalmen -Mercedes Sierra, CEO, SENER Engineering and Systems, Inc. -Enrico Trapazzo, CEO, FS Italian Railways USA Inc. -Mark Evans, President & CEO, DB Engineering & Consulting USA -Daniel Plaugher, Executive Director, Virginians for High-Speed Rail-Jim Matthews, President & CEO, Rail Passengers Association-Rick Harnish, CEO, High Speed Rail Alliance-Dan Swinney, Founder and Senior Advisor, Manufacturing Renaissance-Alan Minsky, Executive Director, Progressive Democrats of America-Thea Selby, Former Board Member, California High Speed Rail Authority -Brett Hartl, Director of Government Affairs, The Center for Biological Diversity-Danny Noonan, Co-Founder, Breach Collective-Keith Wilson, President, Titan Freight Systems-Rod Diridon, Chair Emeritus, Chair Emeritus, California High Speed Rail Authority Former Chair of the American Public Transportation Association