The Supreme Court March 9 sent back to a federal appellate court for reconsideration a freight railroad challenge to a provision of the 2008 Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) that allowed the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Amtrak to collaborate in establishing minimum on-time performance standards for Amtrak passenger trains operating on freight railroad-owned track. The 9-0 unanimous decision was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Take it from an iron horse’s mouth that if it ain’t one damn thing, it’s another, and 2014 will present for railroads a repast of challenges on Capitol Hill, before the Surface Transportation Board (STB) and federal courts, and at the labor bargaining table.
A mark, a yen, a buck, a pound, money makes the world go round. (Yes, lyrics from the musical, Cabaret.) But money is a scarce commodity, especially for Amtrak, which competes with other publicly funded projects—not the least being mass transit, aging water and sewer systems, highways, commercial aviation, and ports.
Among priorities of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee is reauthorization of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA), portions of which are a growth hormone for state-subsidized intercity passenger rail corridors that are separate from Amtrak’s long-distance network, Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, and commuter rail operations.