The Federal Railroad Administration has issued a notice of funding opportunity for $5.8 million in grants for its Interstate Rail Compacts or IRC program, which helps provide planning and other technical support to local rail projects. Grant applications for this funding are due by July 10.
[Above photo by the FRA]
The agency said IRCs are identical agreements passed into law by two or more states that support and facilitate development of multi-state and regional intercity passenger rail services. Funding from the new program will provide eligible entities the opportunity to improve, promote, and develop passenger rail service across and between their states.
“The Interstate Rail Compacts Program will facilitate multi-state partnerships to bring world-class passenger rail to more communities while supporting the long-term growth of America’s rail network,” noted FRA Administrator Amit Bose in a statement.
The agency noted that grants awarded through this program will be eligible to fund the costs of administering IRCs: systems planning, including studying the impacts on freight rail operations and ridership; promotion of intercity passenger rail operation; preparation of applications for competitive federal grant programs; and operations coordination.
While the funds awarded through the IRC program will not directly fund rail capital projects, FRA said activities supported by it will help prepare entities implementing IRCs to deliver rail capital projects to communities across their regions.
Concurrently, the FRA issued a separate notice of funding opportunity for $5 million in grants to fund a rail research and development “Center of Excellence” to improve the safety, performance, and sustainability of freight, intercity passenger, and commuter rail.
That “Center of Excellence” is designed as a three-year program, FRA explained in a separate statement, with the current round of grant funding from fiscal years 2022 and 2023. Another $2.5 million will be made available in FY 2024, subject to the availability of funds, for a total of $7.5 million.
The Center of Excellence with fund up to 50 percent of the cost of selected proposals, FRA noted, adding that eligible proposals include advances in research, evaluation, education, workforce development, and training efforts related to safety, project delivery, efficiency, reliability, resiliency, and sustainability.
That also includes advances in rolling stock, grade crossing safety, advanced Positive Train Control, human factors, inspection and remote sensor technologies, rail systems maintenance, and operational reliability, among others.