Up to $2.4 billion available for freight, intercity railway safety infrastructure

April 2, 2024

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced a $2.4 billion round of grant funding for freight and intercity rail projects through the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements program (CRISI). The program will help improve railroad safety, build supply chains and provide regional transportation, according to an announcement from the Federal Railroad Administration.

“We’re opening the biggest funding round in history for the program that modernizes freight and intercity passenger rail infrastructure,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “This funding will make it safer, more affordable, more sustainable, and more efficient for people and goods to move by rail across the country.”

The Federal Railroad Administration issued a Notice of a Funding Opportunity (NOFO) with applications due by May 28, 2024. Funded through the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the program already provided $1.4 billion in the previous fiscal year.

The CRISI program is designed to improve railroad safety and performance on more than 140,000 miles of freight rail lines and about 21,400 miles of passenger rail across the country. In 2021, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave America’s rail network a B grade, noting that at the time, passenger rail had a multi-billion dollar repair backlog.

In addition to routine repairs that will improve rail efficiency, the investments will also support projects that will reduce the risk of accidents. Most railway accidents are caused by people trespassing on rail right of ways or collisions with vehicles at crossings, according to the ASCE report card. Anti-trespassing measures and redesigning railway crossings are among the priorities for the CRISI program.

“CRISI-funded projects improve the fluidity of the national rail network and make it easier and safer for goods and people to move by rail across the country,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Amit Bose.

In previous years, California was the site of the largest project, receiving more than $200 million to support design, right-of-way acquisition and construction of six railway crossings where an existing private railway and the future California High Speed Railway intersect with roads in a rural community. High speed rail is not one of the project categories set to receive funding, but projects for improvements to railway and highway crossings are eligible.

In Massachusetts, a project to improve intercity travel on Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited route and increase rail speed up to 80 mph received $108 million. A project to improve rail service in the Florida panhandle received $23 million. A full list of the previous grant recipient 2022-23 project summaries is available through the Federal Railroad Administration.

“Every year, FRA sees extraordinarily high demand for CRISI grant funds, which help railroads, states, and local communities meet vital needs for safety and economic development and growth,” Bose said.

The grants are open to public and private entities. States and state agencies can apply, as well as county governments, Amtrak and local transportation authorities that operate intercity rail. Privately operated rail operators and equipment manufacturers are also eligible, in addition to labor groups, Native American tribes and university centers that research rail safety topics.

Photo by N9002U

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