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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Rail Research and Development Center of Excellence Grant Program

Overview: This program makes funding available to establish a center to advance research and development efforts that seek to improve the safety, performance, and sustainability of freight, intercity passenger, and commuter rail. See the FY22-23 Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for more information.

  • To view presentation materials from the May 31, 2023, Rail Research and Development Center of Excellence NOFO Webinar, visit FRA's Webinars webpage, Grants & Loans drop-down.

Legislative Authority:  This program was authorized under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), 2021 (Public Law 117–58; 49 U.S.C. 20108; November 15, 2021). The Secretary is authorized to fund the cost of establishing and maintaining the Center of Excellence (CoE) and related research activities. Only one CoE may be established, but that CoE may reside at one institution or be a consortium of member institutions. 

Funding Available for Award Under FY22-23 NOFO:  $5,000,000

Eligible Applicants:


  • That possess a strong past performance related to rail research, education, and workforce development activities;
  • That would involve public and private sector passenger and freight railroad operators in establishing and maintaining the CoE; and 
  • Whose work would have regional and national impacts that align with DOT Strategic Goals.
    • Examples of such goals include developing transformative research, incorporating climate and clean energy priorities in research, a demonstrated ability to achieve workforce development goals, Minority-Serving Institution (MSI)/Historically Black College and University (HBCU) participation, and a commitment to underrepresented/underserved communities and economic equity.

Eligible Program Activities:  

  • Establishing the Center of Excellence
  • Maintaining the Center of Excellence
  • Providing funding for projects consistent with 49 U.S.C. 20108(j)): 
    • Basic and applied research, evaluation, education, workforce development, and training efforts related to safety, project delivery, efficiency, reliability, resiliency, and sustainability of urban commuter, intercity high-speed, and freight rail transportation