The Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA) was created to reauthorize the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, better known as Amtrak, and strengthen the US passenger rail network by tasking Amtrak, the U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), States, and other stakeholders in improving service, operations, and facilities. PRIIA also tasks States with establishing or designating a State rail transportation authority that will develop Statewide rail plans to set policy involving freight and passenger rail transportation within their boundaries, establish priorities and implementation strategies to enhance rail service in the public interest, and serve as the basis for Federal and State rail investments within the State. In order to comply with PRIIA, State rail plans are required to address a broad spectrum of issues, including an inventory of the existing rail transportation system, rail services and facilities within the State. They must also include an explanation of the State’s passenger rail service objectives, an analysis of rail’s transportation, economic, and environmental impacts in the State, and a long-range investment program for current and future freight and passenger infrastructure in the State. The plans are to be coordinated with other State transportation planning programs and clarify long-term service and investment needs and requirements. This paper and presentation will illustrate the steps required in preparing a State rail plan and the benefits of having a properly developed plan.

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