The US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has launched a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program.

This NOFO, along with funding from the 2020 Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, will enable freight and passenger rail projects to receive funding of up to $311.8m to boost transportation safety, efficiency, and reliability.

FRA administrator Ronald L Batory said: “We’re committed to addressing the unmet transportation needs of rural areas, which face unique challenges in safety, infrastructure condition, and passenger and freight usage.

“I encourage all eligible parties to take full advantage of this funding opportunity.”

Projects that deal with reducing congestion, highway-rail grade crossings, upgrading short line or regional railroad infrastructure, relocating rail lines, improving intercity passenger rail capital assets, and deploying of railroad safety technology are eligible for funding.

Additionally, 25% of the available funds will be reserved for projects in rural communities in the US.

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FRA will give preference to projects where the projected federal share of total costs is less than 50%.

It will also take into consideration other factors such as geographic diversity and diversity in systems receiving funding.

Projects under the 49 U.S.C. 22907(c)(2) are eligible for $45m of the $311.8m. These projects need to acquire rights-of-way, track, or track structure.

Earlier this month, US-based passenger railroad service Amtrak received $1bn in federal funds as it faces an unprecedented fall in ridership due to the Covid-19 crisis.

The funding will help Amtrak to maintain its services and respond to the current crisis and the pandemic’s impact on its business.