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2/5/2002



Rail News: Passenger Rail

House committee schedules Amtrak oversight hearings


U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure plans Feb. 14 to conduct oversight hearings regarding management decisions — Amtrak’s and Congress’ — that have led to continued deterioration of Amtrak’s passenger rail service.



The first hearing would include the entire Amtrak Reform Council board, which would outline its restructuring plan and present ways in which members believe the railroad’s operational problems might be corrected.



A later hearing would include Amtrak representatives as well as other interested parties.

"The hearings will examine Amtrak policies and the extent to which the demands of policymakers have created problems for Amtrak," said U.S. Rep. Don Young, committee chairman, in a prepared statement. "I’m concerned that Amtrak is trying to shift the blame for its own nonfeasance to ‘policymakers’ by blaming ‘conflicting mandates.’"



While Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act of 1997 did retain the national system as a goal, it didn't require Amtrak to continue operating the network as designed in 1971, added Young. The statute did, however, permit Amtrak to "zero base" its route network similar to airline and bus company practices.


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