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Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LIPINSKI. I rise to engage in a colloquy with my good friend from Iowa, the distinguished chairman, Mr. Latham.

First, I would like to acknowledge the difficult and challenging job the chairman has had in crafting this bill. I would also like to acknowledge all of the work of Ranking Member Olver, not just this year but in years past here in Congress, and especially as head of this committee.

In 2008, Congress passed a mandate requiring commuter and freight railroads to implement Positive Train Control by 2015. While PTC provides a very significant safety improvement, it is also very costly. The Federal Railroad Administration has estimated that the total cost for PTC will be $13.2 billion industrywide.

In recognizing the cost when we were working on the bill in order to implement the mandate, I was able to add language authorizing the Rail Safety Technology Grant program at $50 million per year. Since the program was authorized, however, Congress has only appropriated $50 million for 1 year.

This mandate is especially hard on commuter railroads. In the Chicago region, Metra serves approximately 300,000 commuters every weekday. Metra estimates that PTC will cost $200 million, an amount the agency will struggle to afford. There are many other commuter railroads in this country facing similar situations and needing some help in implementing this safety technology.

Yet, in recognizing the difficult choices the chairman has had to make on this bill, I will not offer an amendment. I would ask, as this bill moves forward to conference and in future appropriations bills, that we work together to find some level of Federal support to help defray the costs for our Nation's railroads in order to implement PTC.

With that, I yield to Chairman Latham.


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