Lawmakers call for removal of rail provision during highway bill conference


The Senate's version of the transportation bill (S. 1813) would provide funding for road and transit projects over the next two years. The bill was amended to lower the requirement for high-speed rail locomotives after a federal panel recommended 125 miles-per-hour.

Supporters of lowering the speed of the locomotives argued that the faster trains may not be compatible with existing tracks, but Matsui and Hultgren argued that was not a valid concern.

"The most utilized and profitable passenger railroad lines in the U.S. can already support trains traveling at 125 mph, and there is an ongoing effort in the U.S. to upgrade more tracks to support 125 mph," the lawmakers wrote. "As we strive to build a world-lass rail system, we need to increase performance and efficiency, while reducing emissions and addressing other environmental factors.

"Locomotives last in service for at least 25 years, so procuring 110 mph locomotives now would lock America's passenger railroad network out of faster, more popular and more efficient service for a generation."