FRA informs and implements Administration policy regarding the nation's intercity passenger rail system and sponsors passenger rail improvements and services. Formed in 1967, FRA has conducted studies and demonstrations, provided oversight, and administered federal grants to the nation’s intercity passenger rail system under the High-Speed Ground Transportation Act of 1965 and the Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970, which relieved private rail carriers of their obligation to provide passenger rail service. The Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA), which created new railroad investment programs and reauthorized Amtrak for five years, required further federal involvement in developing the nation’s intercity passenger rail system, as did the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act of 2015 (FAST)—which represents a historic milestone in that for the first time, intercity passenger rail has been included in a comprehensive, multi-modal surface transportation authorization.
FRA’s Office of Railroad Policy and Development (RPD) is responsible for project development and investment in passenger and freight rail infrastructure as well as the implementation of statutory policy concerning intercity passenger rail service and high-speed rail. RPD also oversees grant agreements with Amtrak to administer federal funds appropriated by Congress to support Amtrak’s operations, infrastructure, and equipment.