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House Subcommittee Approves "Kill Amtrak" Bill

09 Sep 2011 4:32 PM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

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From the National Association of Railroad Passengers:

House Subcommittee Passes “Kill-Amtrak” Bill

High-Speed Rail Funding Eliminated

Release #11-18 September 9, 2011

Contacts: Ross Capon (mobile 301-385-6438), Sean Jeans-Gail, (mobile 202-320-2723)

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation & Housing yesterday voted to slash Amtrak’s operating grant  60% -- from $563 million this year and last, to $227 million.  Capital grants (including debt service) would drop from $924 million to $899 million. 

NARP President Ross Capon said, “Denying Americans the freedom to choose train travel makes no sense in a world of high gasoline prices and overcrowded highways and airports.  It is equally senseless in a job-starved economy to take jobs away from the public and private sector workers who build, operate and maintain trainsundefinedand all forms of transportation.  Amtrak President Joe Boardman was correct yesterday in observing, ‘Amtrak is part of the solution, not the problem.’”

The bill forbids use of the operating grant to fund short corridorsThis overrides ongoing negotiations among states and Amtrak aimed at complying with Amtrak’s 2008 reauthorization lawundefinedand overrides that law’s October 2013 target date for “equal treatment” of all states as to what they must pay for short corridors.  This poses an obvious threat to trains that carried 13 million passengers last year -- and to passengers using those trains in California, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

But the bill really would kill all of Amtrak because loss of the short corridors would cut revenues and balloon costs for Northeast Corridor and national network (overnight) trains.  Revenues from connecting passengers disenfranchised by loss of those corridors would disappear.  Overhead costsundefinedsuch as for station facilities and maintenance back shopsundefinedwhich now are shared among routes would be dumped on the surviving trains.  For example, the Texas Eagle would become the sole user of the St. Louis and Fort Worth terminals and six Illinois stations.  And Amtrak’s Chicago terminal costs would be borne solely by eight overnight trains.  

The High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail programundefineda highly oversubscribed program that has seen 39 states apply for funds to improve (and introduce) modern passenger trains for the 135 million Americans that live in a community connected to a rail corridor was given no funding at all.  Eliminating this program could set the movement to bring U.S. interstate transportation up to the level seen in the rest of the developed world back by decades, severely undermining America's ability to stay globally competitive.

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  • 09 Sep 2011 6:29 PM | Deleted user
    I can't get very excited anymore about saving Amtrak. If they cannot provide service we need, they ought to be shutdown.
    Link  •  Reply
    • 10 Sep 2011 4:53 PM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)
      And replace it with what?

      No passenger rail at all? That will be the "replacement" for Amtrak.

      Why would anyone want that? Just because your favorite train hasn't been restored?
      Link  •  Reply
      • 02 Nov 2011 6:10 AM | Anonymous member
        I wrote my congressman, Gus Bilirakis,but all he does is acknowledge receipt of my letter, and then says he can't do anything about it because he doesn't serve on any committee connected with what I'm writing about. what a vague response! Fat chancde he'll get my vote again.
        Link  •  Reply
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