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6/22/2005



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

House Appropriations Committee proposes $550 million for Amtrak in FY2006


Last week, a House appropriations subcommittee proposed allocating only $550 million for Amtrak in fiscal-year 2006, an amount Amtrak said would shut down the railroad. But that didn’t sway the House Appropriations Committee, which yesterday voted to back the subcommittee’s proposal.

The appropriation is about one-third less than what the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Inspector General says is required to operate the system, according to the Midwest High Speed Rail Association. If the appropriation is passed by Congress, Amtrak would cut all service in the Midwest, association officials believe.

"This is embarrassing," said association Executive Director Rick Harnish in a prepared statement. "While the rest of the world is investing billions and billions of dollars in new railroads … the U.S. can’t even agree to fund its existing system."

However, Bush Administration officials say a lower appropriation for Amtrak would force the reform issue.

"The movement toward successful reform of Amtrak is growing stronger every day, thanks in large part to the House Appropriations Committee," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta. "With its help, I am confident that we will finally make progress this year toward a more viable and fiscally responsible intercity passenger-rail system."



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