The programme funds capital projects to repair, replace, or rehabilitate publicly or Amtrak-owned or controlled assets, to reduce the state of good repair backlog and improve inter-city passenger rail performance. The 2019 fiscal year programme will fund 12 projects in nine states. Eligible projects include upgrading infrastructure such as track, switches, bridges, passenger stations, and highway-rail grade crossings; and equipment, including passenger coaches.

The $US 302.6m total for 2019 is short of the $US 396m made available for grants under the 2019 Consolidated Appropriations Act. FRA will make the remaining $US 93.4m available with a Notice of Funding Opportunity for the 2020 programme.

“This funding will go a long way in addressing passenger rail capital project needs in communities around the country,” says FRA administrator, Mr Ronald Batory.

The projects

North Carolina - Piedmont inter-city fleet and infrastructure investments project phase 2: up to $US 80m. North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT): purchase six locomotives and 13 passenger coaches to replace existing state-owned equipment that are 30 and 50-years old, respectively. The equipment will serve Amtrak’s Piedmont service between Charlotte and Raleigh. The project is the second phase of NCDOT’s equipment procurement programme, building upon a previous Partnership Program award to procure passenger coaches. The project will enhance service and support continued growth, including a fourth daily Piedmont trip planned for 2023.

New Jersey - Portal north bridge project: up to $US 55.1m Amtrak (lead applicant) New Jersey Transit Corporation (joint applicant): provides funds toward the inter-city passenger railway's cost share for the Portal North Bridge Project, which replaces the existing two-track movable Portal Bridge with a new, 4km, double-track fixed span bridge crossing the Hackensack River in northern New Jersey. The existing bridge is used by 450 trains daily carrying more than 200,000 daily passengers.

New Jersey – Reconstruction of Substation 41: up to $US 36.4m. New Jersey Transit Corporation (lead applicant) Amtrak (joint applicant): reconstructs Substation 41, an Amtrak-owned electrical facility in Kearny that powers Northeast Corridor main line services in northern New Jersey into Penn Station New York.

New York - MTA Penn Station Access - Hell Gate Line catenary replacement: up to $US 30m. Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA): replaces 210 catenary structures on the Amtrak-owned Hell Gate Line between Penn Station and New Rochelle.

Connecticut - Walk bridge replacement project (Opportunity Zone): up to $29.9m. Connecticut Department of Transportation (lead applicant) Amtrak (joint applicant): replaces the existing movable Norwalk River Bridge, built in 1896, with two independent double-track vertical lift rail bridges.

New York - MTA Long Island Rail Road - Penn Station platform improvements: up to $US 17.5m. NY MTA: rehabilitates platforms 7 and 8 at Penn Station.

Illinois - Milwaukee North Line Interlocking Improvements: up to $US 12.5m. Commuter Rail Division of the Regional Transportation Authority (Metra): rehabilitates and modernises three interlockings on the Metra-owned Milwaukee North Line in Illinois.

California - Coastal Bluff track bed stabilisation and seismic improvements project: up to $US 11.6m. San Diego Association of Governments (lead applicant) North County Transit District (joint applicant): rehabilitates and upgrades a section of North County Transit District-owned track located on sensitive coastal bluffs in Del Mar to protect against erosion that has disrupted rail service in the corridor multiple times in recent years.

Pennsylvania - Harrisburg Line capacity improvements - track upgrade from Glen to Thorn: up to $US 8.3m. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (lead applicant) Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (joint applicant): rehabilitates and upgrades 16km of track from the Glen Interlocking to Thorn Interlocking in Chester County on the Amtrak-owned Harrisburg Line between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, permitting speeds of 96km/h.

Maryland - Northeast Corridor Winans to Bridge Improvement Project: up to $US 8m. Amtrak (lead applicant), Maryland Department of Transportation, Maryland Transportation Authority (joint applicants): rehabilitates and upgrades an 8km section of the Amtrak-owned Northeast Corridor (NEC) mainline near Baltimore.

California - Four rural rail bridges/rehabilitation and scour mitigation: up to $US 6.75m. Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA): rehabilitates and performs scour mitigation on four existing bridges on the SCRRA-controlled Ventura Subdivision, used by Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner and Metrolink’s Ventura County Line where the rail line crosses the Arroyo Simi Channel.

Michigan - Kalamazoo-Dearborn Track and Signal Infrastructure Reliability Improvement projects: up to $US 6.5m. Michigan Department of Transportation: rehabilitates and upgrades signal and track infrastructure on the state-owned Kalamazoo - Dearborn corridor, used by Amtrak’s Wolverine and Blue Water services as well as multiple freight operators.