Rural freight rail modernisation programme piloted by USDOT
The new programme will support economic activity and improve the safety, capacity and reliability of the freight transportation sector.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has announced the launch of a new pilot programme that will expedite long-term, low-cost loans for short line and regional freight railroads in America.
The Railroad Rehabilitation and Investment Financing Express (RRIF Express) will aim to reduce the time and costs associated with securing loans to modernise outdated freight rail infrastructure. The programme will provide up to $26 million in additional financial support alongside expedited handling of loan requests.
Elaine L. Chao, the U.S Secretary of Transportation, said: “This new financing programme will strengthen the short line and regional railroad system, promote economic growth in rural communities, and boost America’s economic competitiveness.”
The Build American Bureau will manage the new programme under Chao’s leadership, aiming to support economic activity and improve the safety, capacity and reliability of the freight transportation sector.
Short line and regional railroads operate over 47,000 route miles in the U.S., as the first and last mile of freight rail service short lines transport the goods and materials that consumers and businesses rely on daily.
The new programme will significantly cut credit risk premium costs and adviser fees for qualified applicants – costs that borrowers would usually have to pay under the traditional RRIF programme.
President of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, Chuck Baker, said: “We’re so pleased that this administration is launching a serious and smart effort to make the RRIF programme work for smaller operators. Access to long-term low-cost capital is a challenge in this industry, especially for railroads serving small town America. RRIF can be an effective solution, but only if it can be reliably and quickly accessed; this express programme shows great promise for meeting that need.”