Mar 18 2015

Senator Blunt Introduces Bipartisan Bill To Promote Rail Infrastructure, Eliminate Burdensome Regulations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va) introduced the Track, Railroad, and Infrastructure Network (TRAIN) Act today, which will reform the environmental permitting process for rail projects in order to facilitate a more efficient way to approve rail infrastructure.

The bipartisan legislation, which has been endorsed by the Missouri Railroad Association, would promote additional investment in rail systems without compromising environmental quality. U.S. Senator John Thune (S.D.), Chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, is an original co-sponsor. Click here to read the bill.

“Freight rail traffic is growing, which means we need more infrastructure to move goods and services and ensure that rail remains a major component in our economic future,” said Blunt. “This bipartisan bill will help ensure that burdensome federal regulations do not hamper investment and innovation in our nation’s freight and passenger rail industry.”

“Our nation’s railroads move 29 million carloads every year and take millions of trucks off the road, but critical investments are needed to remove bottlenecks and improve the efficiency of the system,” said Manchin. “Unfortunately, these important projects languish on the vine year after year due to a relentlessly bureaucratic federal permitting process. In 2012, we streamlined this process for federal highway and road projects to get them off the drawing board, and, just last year, we did the same thing for major projects along our nation’s waterways. It’s time that we extend these commonsense reforms to our nation’s railroads to ensure that we can efficiently move goods throughout the nation and keep our economy moving.”

“This legislation adds some common sense to a regulatory framework that is too often inflexible even when there are pressing needs to improve the network bringing safe and on-time delivery of freight to consumers and businesses,” said Thune. “I appreciate Senator Blunt’s leadership on this initiative and look forward to bringing this bill before the Commerce Committee for consideration.”

In 2012, Congress identified duplicative and burdensome permitting requirements for other modes of transportation, and responded by enacting permitting reform legislation as a part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. The TRAIN Act would expand these reforms to railroad infrastructure.

The rail industry has encountered significant challenges in the federal environmental permitting process that have resulted in burdensome administrative delays unrelated to environmental concerns. The unnecessary delays result in cost increases that reduce the amount of capital railroads have available to invest in projects.