The US Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has received 278 pre-applications nationwide for a $102bn federal grant for high-speed intercity passenger rail networks announced under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

TRANSPORT Secretary Ray LaHood said that the response was “tremendous” and indicated that the country was ready for high-speed rail.

“It’s time to look beyond our highways and invest in public transportation services like rail, which will enhance regional mobility and reduce our carbon footprint,” Lahood said.

The pre-applications were filed from 40 states and the District of Columbia.

The West region has requested the maximum fund of $38bn with 108 pre-applications, followed by Northeast requesting $35bn with 79 pre-applications.

The Southeast region has submitted 44 pre-applications for $16bn and Midwest submitted 47 pre-applications for $13bn of the federal grant.

The US department said it will work with states and regions to prioritise the requests. The first round of merit-based grants is expected to be announced this autumn.

The final application date is 24 August for funding on individual projects and planning and 2 October for corridor programmes.