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9/5/2003



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Senate committee approves $1.35 billion in FY2004 for Amtrak


Amtrak officials are remaining cautiously optimistic about the Senate appropriation committee’s Sept. 4 vote to approve $1.35 billion for the national passenger railroad in the fiscal-year 2004 budget — an amount that’s still less than Amtrak’s requested $1.8 billion, but more than a House subcommittee’s recommended $900 million.

The Senate proposal also would defer payment of a $100 million loan another year, which Amtrak officials assumed they would have to pay back this year, says Amtrak spokesperson Cliff Black, adding that with the deferral, Amtrak would reduce its appropriation request to $1.7 billion.

"As we’ve said before, Amtrak is in dire need of capital investment to bring it to a state of good repair," says Black. "We’re encouraged the committee approved [$1.35 billion], and we’ll continue to advance our plan to Congress to provide additional funding to fulfill our needs."

The national passenger railroad’s officials will hold their collective breath until the FY 2004 budget appropriation is finalized. The House and Senate still will have to reconcile their numbers, says Black.

Next week, the full Senate is expected to vote on the $1.35 billion appropriation and the House, the $900 million appropriation.



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