By Vicki Needham - 02/08/11 04:29 PM EST
The plan also clarifies the long-term federal role in passenger rail that will provide states and cities with more certainty to make long-term transportation plans for their communities.
""This historic investment in America’s high-speed rail network keeps us on track toward economic opportunity and competitiveness in the 21st century," LaHood said. "It’s an investment in tomorrow that will create manufacturing, construction and operations jobs today."
The proposal announced also streamlines Transportation’s rail programs, making it easier for states, cities and private companies to apply for grants and loans. For the first time, all high-speed and intercity passenger rail programs will be consolidated into two new accounts: a $4 billion account for network development, focused on building new infrastructure, stations and equipment; and a $4 billion account for system preservation and renewal, which will maintain state of good repair on Amtrak and other publicly owned assets, bring stations into Americans with Disabilities Act compliance and provide temporary operating support to state corridors while the full system is being built and developed.
These investments will focus on developing or improving three types of interconnected corridors:
• Core Express: These corridors will form the backbone of the national high-speed rail system, with electrified trains traveling on dedicated tracks at speeds of 125-250 mph or higher.
• Regional: Corridors with train speeds of 90-125 mph will see increases in trips and reductions in travel times, laying the foundation for future high-speed service.
• Emerging: Trains traveling at up to 90 mph will provide travelers in emerging rail corridors with access to the larger national high-speed and intercity passenger rail network.