The High-Speed Rail Investment Act of 2001 (S. 250)

GAO-01-756R: Published: Jun 25, 2001. Publicly Released: Jul 17, 2001.

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The High-Speed Rail Investment Act of 2001 would allow the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) to issue up to $12 billion in "tax credit bonds" over 10 years, primarily for capital improvement projects designated high-speed rail corridors and on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. This report reviews the (1) cost of the bond-financing mechanism and alternatives to the U.S. Treasury, (2) degree to which bond proceeds would meet the capital needs of federally designated high-speed rail corridors, and (3) extent of the federal oversight role. GAO found that the estimated tax credit for Amtrak bonds would cost the U.S. Treasury between $16.6 billion and $19.1 billion (in nominal dollars) over 30 years. The overall capital needs of fully developed federally designed high-speed rail corridors are unknown because these initiatives are in various stages of planning, but preliminary estimates by Amtrak puts the capital costs for fully developed high-speed rail corridors and its Northeast Corridor at between $50 billion and $70 billion over 20 years.The proposed legislation would require the Secretary of the Treasury to report annually on whether the amount of money in the trust account is sufficient to repay the bonds. The Department of Transportation would approve projects selected by Amtrak before Amtrak issues the bonds.

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