USDOT revises its rail funding program
U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) officials said revisions to the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Express (RRIF Express) program would provide expanded eligibility and flexibility for regional and short-haul rail loans.
“The expansion of this funding program will strengthen the local and regional rail network, promote economic growth in rural communities and boost the economic competitiveness of the United States,” said Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
Officials said RRIF Express seeks to reduce the time and costs associated with obtaining loans to upgrade aging freight and commuter rail infrastructure.
“The RRIF Express program, originally introduced in December 2019, was a thoughtful attempt to improve on the traditional RRIF program, and it has generated substantial interest across the country,” Chuck Baker, President of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad. Association (ASLRRA), said.
“Since that time, the RRIF Express program has been changed and improved, once in March 2020, and again now. In my opinion, the changes introduced in this iteration combine to form a solid and significant improvement to the RRIF Express program.
The expansion of eligibility includes increasing the loan amount from $ 50 million to $ 150 million; make more types of projects eligible; increasing the financing option of the loan amount from 40% to 75%; and greater flexibility in considering different categories of environmental reviews.
The review also increases the credit risk premium assistance from the previous 5% to 10% of the loan value – capped at $ 5 million per claim.