USA is commited to improve its passenger rail network

At the moment the country is investing heavily in order to improve its network of passengers in both urban transport and long distance with the implementation of high-speed services.

After many years in which the country has invested in passenger rail below what is deemed necessary to maintain certain infrastructure in good re­pair and expand capacity at pre­sent population growth, the need to reduce its heavy dependence on oil, traffic congestion on ac­cess routes to large cities, as well as reduce the environmental im­pact of motor vehicles, have made the US government bet to boost passenger rail.

“The freight network is highly developed and, in fact, is the rail system that moves the world’s goods, with a share of 40% of freight in the country and pros­pects for growth (by volume) of up to 22% in the next two dec­ades. By 2015 it is anticipated that the major freight rail com­panies will invest $ 29,000 M, of which between 15 and 20% cor­respond to capacity expansion,” said Maria Jesus Fernandez, Chief Counsel of the Commercial Office in Chicago of the Spanish Embas­sy in the United States. “The long-distance passenger transport, however, has limited geographi­cal coverage – she continues-. The charging infrastructure is not suit­able for an efficient passenger, so investment needs are enormous in both modernization of existing infrastructure as in expansion of capacity. The investment allocated to this infrastructure comes from their private owners, with direct support of the government when network upgrades benefit the passenger”.


“The Congress approved in March a bill under the name of “Law for the reform and investment in pas­senger rail” that is now debated in the Senate, where it could even undergo changes. The cur­rent version provides the approval of funds valued at $7,800 M for the next four years (2015-2019), including operations, of which $ 1.900 M would be allocated to the East Corridor, which is the busiest in the country; $3,900 M to the national network of Amtrak and $1,200 M available for aid to states with new intercity Amtrak lines,” explains Maria Jesus.

In regard to public transport, in­cluding urban and suburban ser­vice, the political debate on a multiyear law replacing MAP-21 is also pending. The current surface transportation legislation expired on May 31st. “Congress and Sen­ate have approved a temporary extension until July 31, with simi­lar levels of spending, which only needs to be signed by the presi­dent, who has already indicated its willingness to do so. Even with this approval, a second extension of two months will be needed to allow further negotiations to reach a more ambitious agree­ment and identify new resources to finance infrastructure and thus have a multiannual framework giving stability to the sector. It should be noted that the last time there was this situation, the Con­gress took 3 years to approve a new multiyear farm bill, “said the Counsellor.