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Rail News: Amtrak

Amtrak asks for $1.8 billion in FY 2004

Amtrak wasted no time to begin its fight for fiscal year 2004 funds. Following last week’s $1.05 billion appropriation by Congress for fiscal year 2003, Amtrak proposed a $1.8 billion federal operating and capital investment grant for 2004.

The proposal includes $1.04 billion for capital needs and $768 million to support operations. The money would help the railroad continue its efforts to provide a safe, stable and reliable service, according to a prepared statement. It also would help cover maintenance on equipment and plants.

During the past seven years, federal capital and operating support for Amtrak averaged $1.1 billion — an amount Amtrak officials say has been insufficient to support its needs. Consequently, the railroad’s debt increased more than $2.5 billion, capital projects were put on hold and maintenance was deferred.

Amtrak’s 2004 funding request is $600 million more than its 2003 request. The increase is based on current capital and operating requirements. The railroad’s capital program outlines specific projects designed to restore and repair trains, as well as reconstruct interlockings and bridges, install 170,000 new ties and invest in several maintenance facilities.

Amtrak plans soon to release a detailed five-year capital plan outlining its long-term initiatives. During those five years, the railroad would need about $2 billion annually in federal funding, Amtrak said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/21/2003