House Passes Bill to Improve Passenger Rail

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015 (PRRIA) by a vote of 316-101.

The main focus of the bill is to reform and improve our nation’s intercity passenger rail systems.  These reforms are achieved mostly through changes to Amtrak and its operating procedures.  Of interest to AGC and our members, the bill provides $300 million annually for capital grants of which 50 percent is required to go to the Northeast Corridor.  The bill seeks to leverage non-federal participation in intercity passenger rail by creating station development opportunities for the private sector and opening new revenue streams through right-of-way development.

The bill makes changes to the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program, which provides long-term, low interest loans for railroad-related improvements to help advance large-scale infrastructure projects. The changes to the RRIF program are intended to speed up the slow approval process for the loans.  In addition, PRRIA dedicates a significant portion of the RRIF program to the Northeast Corridor to incentivize states and localities to seek loans that advance projects of national and regional significance.  Of particular note, PRRIA contains provisions to streamline the environmental review process and increase project delivery for rail construction projects.

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

For more information, please contact Sean O’Neill at or (202) 547-8892.