FRA makes $1 billion available for Amtrak in response to COVID-19

April 13, 2020

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is making over $1 billion available to Amtrak to support the railroad’s activities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on operations and business.

The funding is being provided under the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Amtrak has experienced an unprecedented decline of over 90% in ridership in recent weeks as well as a decline in future ticket purchases for the coming months, and has pulled certain routes out of service.  

The CARES Act funding will be used to offset the loss of ticket revenue, which is used to pay Amtrak’s employees, buy fuel for its operations and construction materials for its projects, and otherwise maintain Amtrak’s network of intercity passenger routes, including routes in rural areas that have seen total cancellation in service. 

“This funding will help ensure that Amtrak is able to quickly return to service supporting both the public’s transportation mobility needs and America’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 public health emergency,” FRA Administrator Ronald Batory said in a statement. “We are committed to transparency and are requiring enhanced reporting from Amtrak to show how the CARES Act funding is being efficiently and effectively used to respond to present challenges.” 

Under the CARES Act, FRA will make or amend existing grants to Amtrak to provide a total of approximately $1.02 billion; $492 million for the Northeast Corridor and $526 million for the in National Network Grants, as authorized by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.

In addition, the investment will help mitigate the cost impact on America’s 28 state-supported intercity passenger rail routes, where state governments would otherwise be required to make up ticket revenue shortfalls. At least $239 million of the funds provided will be used in lieu of any increase in states’ payments.