DOT High-Speed Rail

Applicants for High-Speed Rail Funds

A preliminary application for stimulus funds was due yesterday, complete applications to be submitted in August.

To meet yesterday’s deadline, states across the Union submitted preliminary applications to the Federal Railroad Administration to receive high-speed rail funds. Final, more in-depth applications will be due in August, and the FRA will begin awarding funds thereafter to corridor projects and planning studies.

It’s obvious from the list that there’s a lot more demand (especially on the part of California) than the $8 billion included in the stimulus can pay for. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said that there were 270 applications from 40 states. This is serious competition.

UPDATED 23 July:

Based on new information from FRA, I’ve updated the list with all application information as I have it currently — the total is now $103.5 billion in applications for $8 billion of funds worth distributions. Two important points: one, private corporations have submitted applications in Nevada and New York; two, a number of conservative states whose governors claim to be against public investment (and the stimulus) have submitted plans as well (i.e., South Carolina and Louisiana).

Confirmed Requests for High-Speed Money
Applicant Route Amount Requested
Alabama ??? $787 m
Arizona ??? $237 m
Arkansas Texarkana (TX)-Little Rock-Memphis (TN) $1 m (study)
California* San Francisco-San Jose (including Transbay); Merced-Bakersfield; Los Angeles-Anaheim  (plus engineering for San Diego-Los Angeles-Bakersfield; Merced-San Jose; Merced-Sacramento; Altamont alignment) $21.7 b
Colorado ??? $1 m
Connecticut* New Haven-Hartford-Springfield (MA); ?? $3.2 b
Delaware ??? $258 m
D.C. ??? $26 m
Florida Tampa-Orlando $3 b
Georgia ??? $296 m
Idaho ??? $5 m
Illinois* Chicago-St. Louis (MO); Chicago-Milwaukee (WI); Chicago-Detroit (MI) $3.6 b (study)
Indiana* Chicago (IL)-Fort Wayne-Columbus (OH) $166 m
Iowa ??? $228 m
Kansas Variety of projects $17 m (study)
Louisiana* ??? $202 m
Maine ??? $106 m
Maryland* Baltimore tunnel replacement; Bridge replacements along NEC; DC-Baltimore Maglev $11.2 b
Massachusetts Vermonter re-routing; ?? $2.1 b
Michigan Chicago (IL)-Detroit-Pontiac $563 m
Minnesota* ??? $933 m
Missouri ??? $139 m
Montana ??? ??
Nevada** Las Vegas-Anaheim (CA) Maglev $12.6 b
New Hampshire ??? $258 m
New Jersey ??? $852 m
New Mexico* ??? $21 m
New York** Albany-Buffalo; Various projects elsewhere in state $9.7 b
North Carolina* Charlotte-Raleigh-Richmond (VA) $5.1 b
Ohio* Cincinnati-Columbus-Cleveland $5.8 b
Oklahoma Tulsa-Oklahoma City $2 b
Oregon Portland-Eugene $2.1 b
Pennsylvania Philadelphia-Harrisburg; Scranton-New York (NY); Pittsburgh Maglev; Harrisburg-Pittsburgh (Study) $6.8 b
Rhode Island ??? ???
South Carolina ??? $115 m
Texas* Dallas-Austin-San Antonio; Temple-Houston $3.2 b
Vermont Variety of projects $121 m
Virginia Washington (DC)-Richmond-Petersburg $2.5 b
Washington Seattle-Portland (OR) $1.8 b
West Virginia ??? $1 m
Wisconsin* Milwaukee-Madison $1.8 b


* = State submitted for other states as well.
** = Private entity also submitted request for funds.

46 replies on “Applicants for High-Speed Rail Funds”

I would hope some of this money would allow the Amtrak Cascades to speed up its incremental improvements. Currently the target completion date is 2023, maybe they could chop about a decade off of that.

Amtrak Cascades Long Range Plan
[see page 3-3]

$600+ million has been spent on the line between 1994-2005 on capital costs.

Another interesting piece of info in the report is that the amtrak cascades should cover 99% of its operating costs in 2023, the target completion year of all the incremental improvements. as more trains are added and faster service is provided, ridership increases and the operation is more economically efficient.

If Ohio got their application in (the ‘if’ is because of the current budget fight between the Governor and the Republican State Senate), the amount is $250m … that’s the 79mph version of the Triple-C corridor, with a possible later incremental upgrade to 110mph.

I wonder what the 1.5 billion dollars is in for Virginia, they have $450 million mentioned including some third track and a speed increase to 90 mph, would it extend electrification or something for that price?

PI. I have read that Mr Boardman has stated publicly that they are indeed looking at extending electrification south at least to Richmond. But I would be willing to be they over asked to make sure they get what they really need/want.

To Chris. I’ve been trying to follow the McCalla issue the best I can, but to me it really reads of nothing more than NIMBYism. Having in my past had to drive the triangle from Gadsden to Birmingham to Anniston I understand how getting trucks off the interstates will help greatly down there.
But in regards to the passenger network, I am looking forward to the entire Crescent run benefiting from increased speed and capacity.

Yonah, I can somewhat understand Connecticut’s stake in keeping Amtrak at commuter rail speeds – it increases commuter rail capacity. But speeding up the NEC would also involve a lot of bypasses, which would only help commuter rail. For instance, east of New Haven it’s straightforward to build new tracks along the I-95 ROW; such a move would both speed up the trains and permit more Shore Line East trains to serve New London.

A comment left on Friday’s (7/10) Amtrak Cascades News Roundup posting at the Seattle Transit Blog by someone who would know indicates that Washington State’s request for the Pacific Northwest Corridor is in the neighborhood of $1.2 billion. Link to request to be posted later.

On VA’s $1.5 bn.
I wonder if that money goes further south than Petersburg, like all the way down to at least the NC line.

@ Adam:

The press release on VA’s Dept. of Rail and Public Transportation is pretty explicit in saying Washington to Petersburg. The likely route of HSR to Hampton Roads will be from Petersburg to Downtown Norfolk, south of the James River.

It will be interesting to see how this and a number of other HSR funding/scheduling priorities play out nationwide. I’m sure from a national perspective, it is more pressing to connect DC to Charlotte and on to Atlanta. On a state level, Virginia is most interested in connecting its three largest metro areas with HSR, even before a connection to North Carolina.

RVAExile –

“On a state level, Virginia is most interested in connecting its three largest metro areas with HSR, even before a connection to North Carolina.”

Maybe, but remember to that there is a joint NC/VA high speed rail authority. And North Carolina is the state that’s in charge of planning the HSR line for the two states (including the line that goes to Hampton Roads). The Hampton Roads line is further behind than the Petersburg to Raleigh line which is almost finished with the Tier II EIS.

What I really wish is that the $8 Bn was $50 bn.

“The Hampton Roads line is further behind than the Petersburg to Raleigh line which is almost finished with the Tier II EIS.”

No. The current (accelerated!) schedule anticipates a Record of Decision on Petersburg-Raleigh in 2011. Richmond-Hampton Roads anticipates a ROD later this year.

There are already RODs for Washington-Richmond and Raleigh-Charlotte, which, since the administration wants the $8B obligated quickly (I think the legislation requires obligation by 2012), gives them a leg up in the selection process.


“The Hampton Roads line is further behind than the Petersburg to Raleigh line which is almost finished with the Tier II EIS.”

No. The current (accelerated!) schedule anticipates a Record of Decision on Petersburg-Raleigh in 2011. Richmond-Hampton Roads anticipates a ROD later this year.
No. At least according to the sehsr site, the Richmond-Hampton Roads section is still working on the Tier I EIS.

I agree on the competitiveness of the Washington-Richmond line. Raleigh-Charlotte, I hope so, but the problem is the amount of grade-crossings that will need to be closed. There’s a lot of double tracking that needs to be done as well. It seems that NC is more concerned right now about getting the segment to Richmond completed. Maybe because it will be easier to get to 110 mph once the ROD comes through? Or maybe because through the incremental improvements they’ve already gotten the Raleigh to Charlotte line fairly competitive with drive times? I don’t know…I just know from listening to these folks is that all the action right now is on the Raleigh to Richmond line, not the Raleigh to Charlotte line.

Sorry, more context may be helpful for the NE plan. Focuses on all aspects of passenger rail and some commuter rail. Goal is to double number of rail passengers by 2030. Wants to expand rail service in VT and speed up down-easter service to Portland from Boston.

Another story link,


Meanwhile, the NEC, which accounts for the vast majority of New England traffic, is not getting anything. (No, capacity improvements in Rhode Island don’t count. The reason the Acela sucks is the curves in Connecticut, not the two-track sections in Rhode Island.)

Has Amtrak submitted anything under this RFP? I know through their $1.5 bn of recovery funds some of that is going to NEC speed improvements (e.g. the Niantic River bridge, and the frequency converters in PA), but don’t think it’s $1 bn worth of stuff. That bridge replacement is supposed to take 10-12 minutes off the Acela time though.

I have no idea if it has. Personally if I were in charge I’d focus on speed improvements in sections of the line where you can’t use an alternative right of way – for examples, the bottleneck tunnel in West Baltimore, and the winding curves between the NY state line and New Haven (east of New Haven, I-95 is straight enough and runs through relatively open space).

I have heard that the NC application will include not only Raleigh-Charlotte projects, but the cost of purchasing much of the defunct S-line between North Raleigh/Wake Forest and Petersburg, and the cost of constructing the new railway to build the fast track between Raleigh and Richmond. We’ll see when it comes out.

Patrick M –

Yes, I had heard that about the Raleigh-Petersburg line. I also think I know what you’re talking about for the Raleigh-Charlotte projects. Originally, right after ARRA passed, the state listed all their potential rail projects. And the big one was double tracking the line from Greensboro to greenville for 600 million.

Plus, there’s a whole lot of projects already in the pipeline that could be funded between Raleigh and Charlotte. Don’t know if these improvements will allow for 110 mph service or not. I know they’ve already straightened out a lot of curves and added passenger sidings. But there’s a lot of grade crossings to close…and I wonder how much it will cost to fix those.


Once again, Minnesota shows it has Pawlenty of nothing. Ayatollah Pawlenty, who has been vehemently anti-transit (and anti-roads & bridges, but less obviously), but over the last 6.5 years, I think many people in his party, like Mary Peters, Norm Coleman, and others, have chastised him quietly, so now he and Rochester, MN’s congressman are going to try and get the route there, which makes some sense, except that the tracks from Rochester to suburban St. Paul would have to be completely rebuilt and expensive farm land may have to be purchased. Going along the river from Winona to St. Paul makes much more financial sense.

Does anyone know anything about Madison-St. Paul HSR upgrades?

Further summary on NC, from the website:

“NC has applied for $4.026 billion (out of the $93b applied for nationwide for grants from the $8b fund) and the 168 mile Raleigh-Richmond corridor is carried entirely on the NC application for a total of $2.548 billion. Final design is $403m, construction $2.016b, also ROW and some other project costs. (not online yet so nothing to link to, but I have a copy of the preapplication)”

Thanks Patrick M!

Ok, so if we can expect projects to get 10% of what they’re requesting, then I suppose NC can expect about $400 M to cover all the final design work. Would be nice to see that pre-application. Apparently they will all be released after FRA looks over them.

for examples, the bottleneck tunnel in West Baltimore

..of course I can’t find the links now. Amtrak has been studying replacing the tunnels through Baltimore and is at the point of analyzing alternatives. If I remember correctly they are aiming for 125 MPH service through Baltimore. New tunnels gently curving in and out of Penn Station. . . Build new tunnels, rehab old tunnels, MARC in old tunnels, Amtrak in new tunnels….


Yep. Interestingly, it also contains money to help start service (79 mph service I assume) to Asheville (western NC) and Wilmington (southeast NC).

Adirondacker, if Amtrak is committed to fixing the West Baltimore bottleneck, then this is great news – of all projects necessary to upgrade NY-DC to 350 km/h operation, this is likely to be the costliest, as well as the one with the greatest benefit to regional trains.

Cameron, the Rochester connection is a very porky idea. The cheap way to get from Madison to Minneapolis is on I-94 via Eau Claire. It serves one metro area of 200,000 instead of one each of 180,000 and 130,000, which is a small price to pay for having an almost straight shot into the Twin Cities.

“Adirondacker, if Amtrak is committed to fixing the West Baltimore bottleneck, then this is great news”
I believe there is a congressionally funded study underway on replacing the tunnels in Baltimore. Not so much a Amtrak project, because the previous initial study looked at replacing both the passenger and freight tunnels through Baltimore. The current Baltimore tunnels represent a major bottleneck for faster passenger train travel and for double stack freight traffic on the east coast. Those tunnels are overdue for replacement.

Oh, the Midwest is pathetic.

Illinois and Indiana are just funding STUDIES? They could be building the “South of the Lake Reroute” by now. Meanwhile, Ohio focuses on its own thing, without integrating with its neighbors. And Michigan is of course bankrupt, which I suppose explains why it didn’t request anything. Minnesota, well, I guess we can blame Pawlenty. :-P

Wisconsin is the lone bright spot. They’ve even picked the right alignment from Madison to Milwaukee, one which can be sped up a *lot* in the future with relatively little work.

Re: the Minnesota route, the existing Eau Claire-Madison routes (I-94 or Union Pacific) are not as straight as you might think, and large amounts of new alignment might be needed. There’s a lot to be said for a Rochester route if — and only if — you’re going to be building a fresh alignment anyway.

Alon, Alan F., here’s the initial study, completed in 2005, not Amtrak but the FRA. .

Some chioce quotes from it:

“the first through route across Baltimore came into being only in 1873, four years after the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, which was evidently the easier of the two tasks. ”

“Intercorporate rivalries between the Pennsylvania and Baltimore & Ohio systems assisted in the dissipation of resources. In the end, each of the competing carriers built its
own, inferior right-of-way, compromising even the then-prevailing standards for gradient, curvature, and operating efficiency.”

“In brief, Baltimore is a severe constraint to national
freight traffic lanes up and down the East Coast”

I can’t find anything other than a Wikipedia entry that $60 million dollars has been allocated for Baltimore studies. And the press release from the Congressman sponsoring it

Nathanael –

Don’t be too hard on the midwest. Not sure why the number next to Illinois says (study). But it most certainly is not just a study. If it were, that would be the largest and most crazy study of all time since they’re requesting 3.8 BILLION dollars!

It’s not an EIS, it’s the study preparing for applying for money to do an EIS/EIR – the report they used to then apply for and get the 60 million late last year. I’d have to go back and reread it, there where caveats scattered all over it along the lines of “we haven’t studied how much the new interlockings will cost” and “the work needed at the junction hasn’t been evaluated”

…. it’s a very preliminary study, one that documents the need for new tunnels, suggests a route and estimates the cost of the tunnel, none of the good stuff like actually connecting it to something. I doubt the cost estimate includes things like signals and catenary either. . . all of that was outside of the scope of the study.

Thanks Alon & Nathaneal,

The Eau Claire routing, which according to Hennepin (Minneapolis) County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin is supported by Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar, though to my knowledge there are no official studies on using that route. Much of it, from west of Madison to St. Paul, was the route of the CNW 400. From a point parallel with Madison, it got to St. Paul in 4 hours.

Having driven that stretch of freeway many times, I can say that it has plenty of room in the median but a hell of a lot of bridges to replace. The MIlwaukee-Madison route helps as a commuter line, too, and I think that’s why they took it, even though it could never be upgraded to 220mph.

I can say with relative certainty that the Mississippi River route from La Crosse to Red Wing to St. Paul will be used. It was also a high-speed route on the MIlwaukee Road.

Just as a definition note, if we are restoring about rail system to slightly-better-than 1930’s standards, we should call it Thirties-Speed-Rail (TSR), and call TGV trains HSR.

Although the vast majority of New York State rail riders live in New York City and its suburbs, the state only applied for money to be spent Upstate. Why am I not surprised?

I think it’s really important that a route east of Chicago, either South Bend-Cleveland or Ft. Wayne-Columbus, be built to truly TGV quality, as well as the Empire corridor, so that eventually a truly high-speed line will exist between our two largest cities (L.A. is not a city).

Although the vast majority of New York State rail riders live in New York City and its suburbs, the state only applied for money to be spent Upstate. Why am I not surprised?

Last time I checked Manhattan is in New York City. From the Times Union article: “…and to help pay for the new Moynihan rail station in Manhattan”

The state’s rail plan is at

Moynihan Station, Hell’s Gate Bridge, Hudson line improvements, Arthur Kill Bridge, Oak Point Yard, all sorts of stuff for NYAR freight operations. Lots of stuff in New York City and it’s suburbs. . . in the plan at least.

Pennsylvania applied for 4 grants for high speed rail:

1.Keystone East Corridor Harrisburg to Philadelphia. – This would be improving the already existing electrified service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg.
2.Scranton to New York Rail Passenger Rail Service Program. – This would be a high-speed(?) rail service from Scranton to New York.
3.Pittsburgh High-Speed Magnetic Levitation Project. This would be a Maglev, or magnetic levitation line from Pittsburgh International Airport to Monroeville/Greensburg. – This is a waste of money but has been on the books for years.
4.Keystone West Harrisburg to Pittsburgh High-Speed Rail Feasibility and Business Plan Study. – This would just be a study to expand high speed electrified rail service from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh.

I agree with the Maglve projects being a waste of money. China built a small maglv train that runs eight miles and they orginally wanted to extend it another 20 miles another airport and then a 128 miles one of the cities suburbs but dropped the idea do to building the right of way though crowed areas and now is thinking about buiding a 20 mile subway tunnnel but these ideas they menitoned would run at least over 20 billon dollars.

The nature of the maglv tracks is if we build a meglv from Pitsburg to Philli what would happen if we build the line from Washingtion DC to Baltmore and wanted to link the two of them but the maglv gauges were different by a few inches and the two maglv lines trains couldn’t run on one another with out changing the gauges of one another?

Not to mention good high speed metal rails go only with in 10 miles on hour of maglv trains.

Washingtion needs to spend the money on breaking open bottle necks on the rail system such as Richmond to Washingtion and the Washingtion and Baltmore Tunnels. The classic catenary masts have been doing well they could instead of tearing them all down replace the brackets themselves over the tracks that hold the wires on to the mast and not destory the masts themselves. They could also extend the catenary wires south to Richmond VA and West to Pittsburg with the classic Pennsyvinia catenary masts but give the classic mast a up grade with the same masts but up graded brackets to tenstion the catenary wires better. The masts have been working well for 80 years plus and they help make US railroads look different from railroads in Europe.
The French TGV set it’s world speed record based off of good catenary brackets and wire and the good catenary brackets could fit onto the sold steel H beams of the classic Pennsyivinia Railroad masts.
Let’s break some bottle necks.

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