The US Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has provided more than $1.69bn in funding to the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak).
Offered under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the financial aid will provide relief to Amtrak from the impact of Covid-19.
Amtrak will use the funds to offset the loss of ticket revenue that it usually channelises for operating its trains and managing its infrastructure.
The company has started recalling its furloughed workers and is preparing to reinstate long-distance service from May.
US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said: “Help is here. The President’s American Rescue Plan is already delivering for workers and the travelling public. This new assistance for Amtrak will get employees back to work and restore service on routes across the country, at a time when this help is urgently needed.”
FRA is providing around $728m for the National Network of state-supported and long-distance intercity passenger lines and nearly $969m for the Northeast Corridor (NEC).
FRA acting administrator Amit Bose said: “The timing of this funding is essential to helping ensure that Amtrak is able to quickly return to service supporting the Nation’s transportation needs and recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. For our part, we are committed to transparency and are requiring enhanced reporting from Amtrak to show how funding from the American Rescue Plan is being efficiently and effectively used to respond to present challenges.”
According to the grant agreement with FRA, the company will be required to report on the number of furloughed employees called back to service, along with a plan on the expected recall of all furloughed workers.
Around $109.8m will be used for covering the capital costs of the states and commuter railroads related to the use of the NEC.
Furthermore, nearly $174m will be used to offset the amount required for states to pay for state-supported routes on the National Network.
Another $100.8m provided under the rescue plan will serve as relief from debt incurred by Amtrak before 11 March 2021.