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2/14/2003



Rail News: Amtrak

Amtrak to make do with less-than-desired appropriation


After more than a month of posturing and politics, Congress appropriated Amtrak $1.05 billion for fiscal year 2003 on Feb. 13.



While the amount is less than the $1.2 billion the railroad said it needed to maintain operations and avoid a shutdown, the funding will be enough to get Amtrak through the remainder of the fiscal year, according to a prepared statement.



"The amount appropriated by Congress only reinforces that sustaining Amtrak operations will be an ongoing challenge," said Amtrak spokesperson Karina Van Veen.



In addition to the $1.05 billion operating grant, Congress deferred payment for a $100 million grant Amtrak received from the U.S. Department of Transportation last year.



While the Senate agreed with Amtrak’s requested $1.2 billion, the House initially wanted to cut Amtrak’s subsidy to $762 million. Amtrak President David Gunn recently said the railroad needs up to $2 billion annually over then next five years in order to sustain services. President Bush has proposed $900 million for Amtrak in the 2004 federal budget.


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