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CNEC Reflects on its 2021 Accomplishments


January 4, 2022


Mike Friedberg


(Washington, D.C.) – 2021 was another successful year for the Coalition of the Northeast Corridor (CNEC) in large part due to the advocacy and expertise of CNEC members who work diligently to improve the safety and efficiency of passenger rail along the Northeast Corridor (NEC).

“Notwithstanding the continued challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, CNEC’s voice in Washington, D.C. contributed to major legislative accomplishments that will bring the NEC into the 21st Century,” said Ronnie Hakim, CNEC Board Chair. “Our contributions led to the enactment of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which secured never before seen investments in passenger rail infrastructure up and down the Corridor.”

“Due to the efforts of the CNEC members, we now have the federal resources needed to address the backlog of more than 100 projects that will improve passenger rail safety, efficiency, and sustainability along the NEC,” said Mike Friedberg CNEC Executive Director. “We look forward to working with the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Federal Transit Authority (FTA) and other agencies as they begin investing in this critical infrastructure.”

Overview of CNEC 2021 Accomplishments


  • Met with the Biden-Harris transition team to discuss the importance of investing in passenger rail infrastructure along the NEC

  • Sent letter to House and Senate leadership voicing the need for direct funding to the NEC in COVID-19 package

  • President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law, which included:

    • $1.7 billion in emergency funding for Amtrak

    • $970 million for Northeast Corridor grants

  • Participated in a virtual Hill Day with staff of the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee, Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and House and Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee to propose $6 billion for the creation of the Bridges, Stations, and Tunnels (BeST) grant program, which would provide dedicated funding to the critical projects necessary to improve the Corridor


  • The House T&I Committee passed the INVEST in America Act, which included $25 billion over five years to both the Passenger Rail Improvement Modernization and Expansion (PRIME) grant program and the BeST grant program

    • While the House surface transportation bill did not move forward (IIJA was adopted), the inclusion of the BeST grant program to create a funding stream directly to the NEC by the House T&I Committee was a result of advocacy efforts by CNEC


  • Established the Resources and Opportunities for U.S. Transit Equity and Sustainability (ROUTES) Working Group to provide recommendations for the implementation of the IIJA. Subcommittees include:

    • Financing and Oversight

    • Project Delivery Strategy

    • Labor and Workforce Development

    • Equitable Access to Rail

  • Two former CNEC Members were nominated by the Biden administration to improve passenger rail along the NEC. CNEC sent letters to Senate leadership including the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in support of these nominations

    • Amit Bose, former CNEC Chair, was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee to serve as FRA Administrator.

      • While the full Senate has yet to confirm him, he will continue to play a critical role at FRA

    • Karen Hedlund was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve on the Surface Transportation Board (STB)

  • President Biden signed the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the IIJA, into law. This legislation includes:

    • $24 billion in funding for the federal-state partnership grants for Northeast Corridor modernization, a program that CNEC members have consistently sought funding for

    • $6 billion for Northeast Corridor Grants to increase the procurement and deferred maintenance backlog that currently exists on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston

  • H&K submitted comments on behalf of CNEC for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Strategic Framework for Fiscal Years 2022-2026, which included the following goals and objectives:

    • USDOT Should Work Collaboratively with FRA as “ONE USDOT”

    • Projects Should Have a Designated Champion to Lead Project Coordination Efforts at the Federal Level

    • USDOT and FRA Should Establish a Passenger Rail Infrastructure Council to Ensure the Successful Implementation of IIJA

    • USDOT should work with FRA to Designate a Rail Research and Development Center of Excellence to Directly Serve the NEC

    • USDOT should continue to work with CNEC to implement the IIJA successfully

  • Met with Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at USDOT to discuss the importance of implementation processes for NEC funding from IIJA

  • Distribution of CNEC weekly Transportation Newsletters began

CNEC is the business community’s voice for strengthening rail infrastructure in order to reduce congestion, create jobs and grow the economy. We represent diverse stakeholders who rely on the Corridor to conduct commerce, access customers, and transport employees.


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