Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and representatives from Class I railroads met Wednesday to discuss building a nationwide high-speed rail network, the secretary said.
“We cannot get into the high-speed rail business without cooperation form our friends in the freight rail business,” LaHood told freight shippers and carriers Thursday.
The U.S. is getting into the high-speed rail business in a big way, LaHood said at a freight transportation policy forum held by the National Industrial Transportation League.
“Two decades from now, the lion’s share of America will be connected by passenger rail, because this is what people want,” LaHood said at the forum in Arlington, Va.
The Obama administration already allocated more than $8 billion for high-speed rail development and billions of additional dollars will come, LaHood said.
Freight railroads will play a critical role in that plan, as they own the right-of-way for the administration’s envisioned high-speed network. “We need our friends in the Class I freight rail business to partner with us,” LaHood said. “We think that will happen.”
LaHood said more meetings are planned. One of the topics being discussed is whether the government will pay railroads for their right-of-way, he told reporters.
The Obama administration has made “some pretty significant investment in Class Is” through its Department of Transportation grant programs, LaHood said.
--Contact William B. Cassidy at firstname.lastname@example.org.