Investments made through PennDOT's rail freight grant programs are important to the state. The application period for grants under PennDOT's two rail freight assistance programs opened this week. PennDOT Spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick says track improvements made through the programs are key to maintaining a strong rail freight network which serves as an economic catalyst. In the last grant period Kirkpatrick says PennDOT awarded $32 million for 27 rail freight projects. There are 64 operating railroads in PA which is tops in the nation.