Viable passenger and freight railroads are essential to achieving a balanced intermodal transportation system and ensuring personal mobility, the free flow of commerce and national security. It can provide land use alternatives, promote economic development, address environmental issues and offer an alternative to highway and air travel.
States have a role in rail planning, development, funding, incentives, safety and security. In addition, about half the states have acquired railroad facilities to prevent corridor abandonment and preserve or enhance rail service to communities and businesses. In recent years, federal policy concerning passenger rail in particular has increasingly focused on state-federal partnerships—similar to those already in place for highways, transit and aviation—with an enhanced state role in rail planning and funding.
NCSL provides informational resources on both freight and passenger rail, including high-speed rail.