June 15, 2023 - TRA Newswire -
Texas Rail Advocates has learned that the state of Texas is not interested in a share of some $5.8 million in federal funding for states to participate in the Interstate Rail Compact (IRC) Program. The available funds would be used to advance the development of intercity passenger-rail service between participating states.
The deadline to apply for the Interstate Rail Compact grants is July 10.
IRC's are agreements passed into law by two or more states that support and facilitate the development of multi-state and regional intercity passenger rail services.
When asked if the Texas Department of Transportation would be applying for a grant the answer was a simple "not at this time". It seems the state never considered establishing a Compact, which is required to participate in the funding program.
For instance, an Interstate Rail Compact could have been used between Texas and Oklahoma for improving the daily Heartland Flyer service between Fort Worth and Oklahoma City, or between San Antonio, Houston and New Orleans to improve service along the Gulf Coast corridor's tri-weekly Sunset Limited service.
One of the most successful compacts touches the Lone Star State. The Southern Rail Commission, formed to increase passenger rail service availability for Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama currently has rail service to launch soon between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama; plans are afoot for trains between Baton Rouge and New Orleans; and it was just announced that Amtrak and the Southern Rail Commission are applying for a grant to extend the daily Crescent service from Meridian, Mississippi to Dallas-Fort Worth.
The grants were created under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in 2021. The program provides federal funding and technical assistance to participating states. Funding will provide eligible entities the opportunity to improve, promote, and develop passenger-rail service across and between their states, according to the FRA.
FRA Administrator Amit Bose, in a May announcement, said that "The Interstate Rail Compacts Program will facilitate multistate partnerships to bring world-class passenger rail to more communities while supporting the long-term growth of America’s rail network."
Grants would cover the administration of an Interstate Rail Compact, study the impact of freight-rail operations, ridership study, promote intercity passenger-rail operations and preparation for competitive federal rail grants when they become available.