Enabling Language

Language as passed by the Senate Commerce Committee (PDF), June 16, 2021

Updated PDF of draft Senate language, June 14, 2021

Original draft, ownload as PDF


   (a) In General.—Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Transportation (Secretary) shall 
convene a working group on enhancing intercity and interstate rail passenger service in the Greater Northwest region, defined as the 
states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and portions of Minnesota and 
Wisconsin serviced by the Empire Builder. Potential routes within the region include but are not limited to between Chicago, IL and 
Portland, OR/Seattle, WA through southern Montana; Denver, CO and Billings, MT, and points beyond; Salt Lake City, UT and Butte, MT, 
and points beyond; Salt Lake City, UT to Portland, OR; and interconnections among such routes. The routes to be considered should link 
and serve in common communities, large and small, across the states comprising the Greater Northwest region, furthering economic and 
social wellbeing of rural America while providing enhanced connectivity for the national long-distance passenger rail system.
   (b) Membership.—The working group convened pursuant to subsection (a) shall consist of representatives of—
      (1) the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), which shall serve as chair of the working group;
      (2) Amtrak; 
      (3) the States along the proposed route or routes; 
      (4) regional transportation planning organizations and metropolitan planning organizations, municipalities, and communities 
along the proposed route or routes, which shall be selected by the Secretary; 
      (5) the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority; 
      (6) tribal nations; 
      (7) railroad carriers whose tracks may be used for such service; and (8) other entities determined appropriate by the 
Secretary, which may include other railroad carriers that express an interest in Greater Northwest service or passenger rail 
advocacy organizations. 
   (c) Responsibilities.—The working group shall- 
      (1) advise the Secretary on the optimal means of implementing the restoration or expansion of intercity passenger rail 
service in the Greater Northwest region funded by the 117th Congress, including but not limited to restoration of the North Coast 
Hiawatha and Pioneer routes, with the purpose of optimizing the quality and ridership of such service; 
      (2) develop recommendations for how the FRA and Amtrak can work with local communities and organizations to develop activities
and programs to continuously improve public use of intercity rail service in the Greater Northwest region; including multi-modal 
connection recommendations to the suggested rail services. 
      (3) beyond existing services and the restored or expanded service funded by the 117th Congress, identify and evaluate all 
feasible options for restoring and expanding intercity rail passenger rail service in the Greater Northwest region. These additional 
options for restored or expanded service may include appropriate connections with relevant destinations beyond the Greater Northwest 
      (2) select preferred options for restoring or expanding such service; 
      (3) develop a prioritized inventory of capital projects and other actions required to restore such service and cost estimates
for such projects or actions; and 
      (4) identify Federal and non-Federal funding sources required to restore such service, including options for entering into 
public-private partnerships to restore or expand such service. 
   (d) Report.—Not later than 12 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the working group shall submit a Committee on 
Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of 
Representatives that Includes— 
      (1) the preferred options selected under subsection (c)(2) and the reasons for selecting such option; 
      (2) the information described in subsection (c)(3); 
      (3) the funding sources identified under subsection (c)(4); 
      (4) the costs and benefits of restoring intercity rail passenger transportation in the region; and 
      (5) any other information the working group determines appropriate. 
   (e) Funding.—From funds made available under Secretary shall provide— 
      (1) financial assistance to the working group to perform requested independent technical analysis of issues before the 
working group; and 
      (2) administrative expenses that the Secretary determines necessary.

Funding language

The Greater Northwest Working Group.—Of the total amount made available to the Office of the Secretary of Transportation and 
the Federal Railroad Administration, for fiscal year 2022, $7,000,000 shall be used to convene the Greater Northwest Passenger 
Rail Service Working Group established under section xxxxx of this Act and carry out its responsibilities under such section.