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Rail News: Amtrak

Amtrak requests $1.6 billion for FY2007


At a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing held today, Amtrak Chairman David Laney and acting President and Chief Executive Officer David Hughes requested $1.6 billion for its fiscal-year 2007 budget and outlined the national intercity passenger railroad’s reform plans.

The railroad lowered its request for operating support from $540 million in FY2006 to $498 in FY2007. However, Amtrak officials propose increasing capital funding by $235 million in FY2007 to $730 million to cover projects such as replacing the span on the Thames River Bridge and upgrading centralized dispatching systems. The railroad also wants to develop a Northeast Corridor Master Plan to determine long-lead infrastructure requirements and other investments.

“Amtrak has reorganized, begun to rebuild the plant and equipment, and has stabilized to a point where I believe we can now begin to address fundamental change aggressively in critical areas,” said Laney. “This year and next are truly pivotal years for Amtrak in its implementation of strategic reform.”

Laney also outlined $275 million in optional funding for a series of strategic investments that would reduce congestion and improve reliability of non-Amtrak owned rail, assist state corridor development, and refinance some of Amtrak’s debt.

He noted that the railroad is in the process of reducing food service costs, and seeking efficiencies by closing or consolidating some facilities and outsourcing some support functions. Amtrak also is re-evaluating fleet utilization, working to improve customer service and reviewing long-distance network to improve financial performance or possibly restructure or reconfigure them.

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More News from 3/16/2006