Amtrak applies for federal grants to improve long distance network

Amtrak has applied for approximately $716 million in FRA funding for proposals that would upgrade existing routes and add new services.


Credit: Amtrak

Amtrak has submitted applications for approximately $716 million in Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) funding for 16 proposed projects around the country that would improve Long Distance reliability, reduce travel times and expand service.

“Amtrak’s Long Distance routes are vital mobility and economic links for communities around the country and we’re continually working to enhance them,” Tony Coscia, Amtrak Board Chair, said. “These grant applications reiterate our commitment to improving service for all Amtrak customers, from small, rural towns to major metropolitan areas.”

The applications were submitted through two FRA programmes funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), including the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Programme funding opportunity for projects outside the Northeast Corridor and the Corridor Identification and Development Programme (Corridor ID Programme).

Example Long Distance projects include:

  • Multiple Cardinal and Sunset Limited service improvements
  • Increase service to operate daily – up from 3x/week currently (Corridor ID Programme)
  • Increase Cardinal train speeds and reduce travel times between Indianapolis and Dyer, Ind.
  • Sunset Limited return to Phoenix
  • Southwest Chief signal modernization between Colorado and New Mexico
  • Empire Builder rail enhancements in Montana
  • I-20 Crescent service extension from Mississippi through Louisiana to Texas
  • Construction of new Crystal City station that would add service to Arlington, Va.

In addition to these Long Distance grant applications submitted in conjunction with various partners, Amtrak also applied for several grants to improve Northeast Corridor and State Supported routes and provided letters of support for 83 projects outside the Northeast Corridor submitted by others.

“The Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority is delighted to serve as a joint applicant with Amtrak to secure Federal-State Partnership dollars for critical infrastructure in northern Montana,” Dave Strohmaier, Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority Chairman, said. “These investments along Montana’s “Hi-Line” will not only improve Empire Builder operations (rippling out across the entire route), but also benefit freight rail and, ultimately, set us up for success in expanding the long-distance national network across the Greater Northwest Region of America.”

“The Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission (MIPRC) is proud to be a co-applicant with Amtrak on a federal application to service the Midwest’s state-owned locomotives, and to have Amtrak partner with us on MIPRC’s CRISI grant application to further region-wide planning,” Laura Kliewer, Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission Director, said. “The commission steadfastly supports Amtrak’s daily long-distance service, which serves many urban and rural communities across the Midwest, and also provides the backbone for additional state-supported services. We applaud Amtrak for pursuing improvements to long-distance lines, as well as their plan to restore daily Cardinal service, a long-sought goal of our member states that the IIJA could make possible.”

“The Southern Rail Commission is pleased to partner with Amtrak and the Louisiana and Mississippi Departments of Transportation as a part of a Federal/State Partnership application to begin the work to implement Amtrak service on the I-20 Corridor,” Knox Ross, Southern Rail Commission Chairman, said. “The SRC and its partner cities on the corridor are excited about the potential of connecting our unique offerings of culture and opportunity with the rest of the country. Amtrak’s historic commitment to studying this service is a significant first step in making that connection a reality.”

“From the proposal to bring daily service to the Sunset Limited and Cardinal to the exciting prospect of new service across the U.S. Southeast, these are vital and long-overdue investments in a connected America,” Jim Mathews, President & CEO of Rail Passengers Association, said.  “Every dollar the IIJA invests in passenger rail creates a return on taxpayers’ equity, delivering many multiples in annual economic benefits to the communities where these new and improved services will run. These interstate corridors connect small towns and big cities alike, and we applaud Amtrak’s grant requests and their efforts to ensure that the 62 million people who live in rural America—a quarter of whom are veterans and another quarter who are seniors—aren’t left behind.”

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