The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is offering more than $244 million in funding for railroads’ infrastructure projects.
The grants are available through the FRA’s Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program, which targets shortline railroads, regional railroads and commuter rail companies needing a funding boost to upgrade infrastructure or enhance safety on tracks and at railroad companies.
The projects that FRA seeks to fund should address congestion, highway-rail grade crossings, upgrades to shortline infrastructure, rail relocation, improvements to intercity passenger rail assets or railroad safety technology, including the implementation of positive train control (PTC).
At least 25 percent of the funds should go to projects in rural communities, the FRA said.
The Federal Register will formally publish the funding notice on August 19, and applications will be accepted for the 60 days following. Funding for the CRISI program itself is authorized under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act of 2015, also known as the FAST Act.
The FRA’s funding announcement comes as many railroads still have work to do in fully implementing PTC so that the safety technology is fully in use by the December 31, 2020 deadline. The FRA should provide a quarterly update on the implementation progress of PTC later this month.
Of particular interest to the industry will be how far rail companies have progressed in achieving interoperability. System-wide interoperability, or the ability of different railroad companies to receive signals of trains that do not belong to them and vice versa, remains a key concern ahead of the December 2020 deadline, according to July testimony from a representative of the U.S. Government Affairs Office before a U.S. Senate hearing on rail issues.