After a third Republican governor said no to federal high-speed rail money citing potential cost overruns, a House committee is looking into building railways without federal involvement. House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica’s (R-Fla.) office said on Friday that the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials is trying to find ways to “encourage and increase private-sector participation in passenger rail service.”
Mica has always been a fan of increasing private funding in rail and had even suggested it as a solution against cost overruns to Florida governor Rick Scott, before Scott cancelled high-speed rail in the state.
“Friday’s hearing will focus primarily on how to strengthen intercity passenger rail while making it less expensive to run,” the committee said in a statement.
Speakers in the meeting will include Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo, Amtrak Vice President Stephen Gardner, North Carolina Department of Transportation Rail Director Pat Simmons, Association of Independent Passenger Rail Operators Stan Feinsod and AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department President Edward Wytind.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has asked the Obama administration to increase spending on transportation to $556 billion, and has said that demand is still high for high-speed rail. “There is a line outside of my door of governors, senators and congressmen,” LaHood said. “There is no shortage of interest in the $2.4 billion we’re going to reallocate from Florida.”
Via The Hill