FRA issues RFP for high-speed rail system without federal funding

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) earlier this month issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the financing, design, construction, operation and maintenance of a high-speed passenger-rail system operating within a high-speed rail corridor.

The catch? There’s no federal funding available for such a system, as Congress prohibited in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act any federal agency from acting on any proposals submitted under the RFP without further action by Congress, according to an FRA notice filed March 11.

Still, the FAST Act required the U.S. transportation secretary to issue an RFP. Responses are due Aug. 31.

Potential corridors identified in the RFP include the Northeast, California, Empire, Pacific Northwest, South Central, Gulf Coast, Chicago Hub, Florida, Keystone, Northern New England and Southeast. The corridors’ boundaries are defined in the RFP.

The Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 included a similar provision that required a “request for expressions of interest” in developing a high-speed rail system, but the transportation secretary didn’t act on the proposals submitted in 2009.

Responses to the recent RFP are welcome from all sources, according to the document.

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