House panel to look for ways to privatize rail

Also on the agenda are North Carolina Department of Transportation Rail Director Pat Simmons, Association of Independent Passenger Rail Operators Stan Feinsod and AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department President Edward Wytind.

The discussion comes as Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has been making the rounds on Capitol Hill defending the Obama administration's plans to increase spending in the area to $556 billion. If the Obama plan is approved, it would represent a 62 percent hike from current levels, but several lawmakers have already indicated it is unlikely they will go along with the plan.

LaHood has told them that demand is still high for high-speed rail money despite Florida’s rejection of what would have been 90 percent of its railway’s projected costs.

"There is a line outside of my door of governors, senators and congressmen," LaHood told a Senate panel Thursday. "There is no shortage of interest in the $2.4 billion we're going to reallocate from Florida."