On October 16, 2008, the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA) was enacted. Section 307(b)(j)(2) of the Act directed the Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration to "develop a long-range national rail plan consistent with approved State rail plans and the rail needs of the Nation as determined by the Secretary in order to promote an integrated, cohesive, efficient, and optimized national rail system for the movement of goods and people[.]" Subsection (j) also directed the Administrator to develop a Preliminary National Rail Plan (PNRP).
Delivered to Congress on October 16, 2009, the PNRP represents a springboard for development of the long-range NRP by illustrating the role that rail plays in meeting the strategic goals established by the Secretary of Transportation. The PNRP is an important first step in an ongoing process. The Preliminary Plan lays the groundwork for developing policies to improve the U.S. transportation system. Its goals are consistent with the goals of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s: to improve safety, to foster livable communities, to increase the economic competitiveness of the United States, and to promote sustainable transportation.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2010, enacted into law on December 16, 2009, established a date of September 15, 2010 for completion and delivery to Congress of the long-range National Rail Plan (NRP). FRA conducted extensive outreach to include stakeholders in the development process for the NRP. Outreach events included webinars, conference calls, focus groups and meetings around the country. A public docket was also available for comments. A National Rail Plan Progress Report was published in September 2012.