Senators Introduce a Bill to Finance Loans for Rail Infrastructure Projects

The most important component of any railroad is its infrastructure. The term means the combination of elements that make up the rail’s right-of-way (bridges, tracks, tunnels, ties, etc.) and equipment (signs, mileposts, switches, etc.). Rail Infrastructure is vital for our economy, and it is important to have a lobbying firm in place to advocate for and against policies that will impact its efficiency.

A couple of months ago, Senators John Thune (South Dakota) and Maggie Hassan (New Hampshire) introduced the Railroad Rehabilitation and Financing Innovation Act, which aims to improve on the existing Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan program.

What Does The RRIF (Railroad Rehabilitation and Financing Innovation Act) Mean for Rail Infrastructure?

The Railroad Rehabilitation and Financing Innovation Act seeks to improve the RRIF program through three objectives

  1. Half of the funding will be dedicated to short line railroads and the other half will be for passenger rail projects
  2. Streamline the application process by expediting credit review processes for loans and requiring the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to update applicants on the status of their application
  3. Become more flexible in regards to longer loan terms for certain rail projects and to modify how USDOT evaluates collateral and creditworthiness

How This Impacts Rail Infrastructure

The current RRIF program was launched over 20 years ago and has since only approved one short line loan due to its expense and uncertainty. The new bill is meant to provide stable financing for small railroads for infrastructure investment when they often cannot afford to apply for RRIF. Senator John Thune recognizes the bill’s impact, “This legislation makes necessary updates to RRIF so that short lines are better able to use the program as originally intended.”

In response to the new bill, the American Short Line Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) has stated, “The RRIF loan program has long been a promising but underutilized and frequently frustrating program.” In addition, the association is on board with the revisions to make the program a more attractive option for long-term financing.

Let Dorn Policy Group Help With Your Rail Infrastructure Concerns

While transportation has evolved since its inception, the rail system has been an integral part of the U.S. economy for over 200 years. As one of Arizona’s top lobbying firms, we are happy to work with railroad companies to make sure their voices are heard by the policymakers that matter. Contact us today to learn what we can do for you!