The budget deal reached in Congress cuts $2.9 billion in funding for high-speed rail projects, only the latest blow to the ambitious initiative. Before that, the newly elected GOP governors of Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida said "no thanks" to hefty federal grants for passenger rail projects, fearing the trains would lose money and the states would be left with the tab.
Transportation expert Ken Orski writes that Mr. Obama's promise of making high-speed rail accessible to 80 percent of Americans in the next quarter-century "was made without any hint as to how this ambitious plan would be paid for and against a background of the House Republicans' announced intention to totally eliminate federal support for high-speed rail beginning next year. Without further congressional appropriations, the President's dogged pursuit of the $53 billion high-speed rail initiative will simply collapse."
The budget deal does not affect $25.6 million in high-speed funding awarded to Pennsylvania for improving passenger rail service between Harrisburg and Philadelphia, nor does it cancel a $1.5 million study of upgrading the woeful Harrisburg-to-Pittsburgh corridor, according to PennDOT.