DRPT’s Rail Division manages grant programs to implement freight and passenger rail initiatives. These funds have evolved over time and serve a specific function in the Commonwealth’s efforts to maintain a competitive rail network serving the Port of Virginia and achieve maximum truck diversion from Virginia’s highways.
The Intercity Passenger Rail Operating and Capital (IPROC) Fund provides operational funding for four state-supported Amtrak Routes, consisting of six daily round trip state-supported Amtrak trains. The funds come from a special fund established by the General Assembly of Virginia within Virginia’s Transportation Trust Fund. IPROC grants do not require matching funds, and money in the fund does not expire or revert back to the general fund if not used each fiscal year.
The Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) of 2008 requires states with Amtrak services shorter than 750 miles to pay for the routes or cease operation. This fund enables the Commonwealth to continue those services. Virginia began funding its Lynchburg and Newport News train routes in 2010. In fiscal year 2013, DRPT began supporting the new service to Norfolk. In fiscal year 2014, Amtrak separated the Richmond terminating services from the Newport News services; and DRPT assumed responsibility for those. It is also the source of funds for passenger rail equipment upgrades and capital improvements. For details on planned annual fiscal year funding for Amtrak service through the IPROC Fund, see DRPT’s annual Six Year Improvement Program (SYIP) document.
The Rail Enhancement Fund is a dedicated source of funding for capital improvements benefiting passenger and freight initiatives. Applications must achieve a Benefit-Cost Ratio of 1.0 or greater, meaning the value of public benefits must be greater than the public funds invested within an established time period. This fund is typically utilized by Class I railroads, the Port of Virginia, and Virginia Railway Express for major capital investments. Funding requires a 30% match by the applicant, from sources other than REF funds.
The Rail Preservation Fund benefits the nine shortline railroads operating in Virginia, which provide the “local” network and the “last mile” of service for rail freight to reach its destination. The fund promotes the continuation of rail service by achieving Federal Railroad Administration Class 2 track safety standards, allowing freight service to operate at speeds up to 25 mph. It also promotes development of rail transportation support facilities, encouraging industrial growth and promoting truck diversion from Virginia’s highways. A minimum of 30% cash or in-kind contribution from private sources is requires for this grant. No more than 50% of total annual funds available for the RPF can be dedicated to any one project.
The Rail Industrial Access Program promotes truck diversion by providing grant assistance to connect new or expanding businesses to the freight railroad network. The program supports localities, businesses, or industries seeking access to a common carrier railroad. Applications are accepted throughout the year. There is no match requirement for this grant program up to $300,000. A grant of up to $450,000 may be requested with a dollar for dollar match over the unmatched $300,000. No locality may request more than 50% of funds available in any given year and grants are limited to one per locality per fiscal year. Program funding can be used to construct rail spurs for businesses for economic development. The program does not cover the cost of constructing the main line switch. This cost must be borne by the applicant.”