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Federal dollars for public-private HSR projects could be game-changing

June 16, 2021

Last week, the House of Representatives’ Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed a $547 billion transportation bill that included $25 billion for high-speed rail projects. The full House is expected to vote on the bill before July 4.

The Senate also passed its own version of the bill last week. A key difference? In the Senate bill—unlike the House version—private companies can receive federal grants for public-private rail projects.

A bi-partisan coalition in Congress is supporting an amendment introduced by Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) to bring the House version into line with the Senate bill.

Brightline, a private company that operates a passenger railroad in Florida, is using a PPP model to build a Las Vegas-Los Angeles high-speed line, which is set to begin construction soon.

Brightline’s CEO said the bill could get the private sector “off the sidelines” and “into the game” by injecting billions of dollars of private funding into the sector. Brightline has reportedly increased its lobbying presence in Congress substantially in 2021.

Last year, one of Brightline’s key investors, Wes Edens of Fortress Investment Group, told Fortune that “the lack of passenger travel by train in this country is a travesty.” He also called it “a gigantic opportunity.”