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Rail News: Amtrak

Amtrak seeks more federal capital funds for infrastructure, but less operating support for FY2014

In its fiscal-year 2014 funding request to Congress, Amtrak is emphasizing the need for federal funds to improve and expand intercity passenger-rail service, but requesting less federal operating support.

Amtrak is seeking $373 million in federal operating support for FY2014, or about 17 percent less than it requested a year ago. The lower dollar figure was made possible by an improved financial position last fiscal year during which Amtrak covered 88 percent of its operating costs with ticket sales and other nonfederal revenue sources, up from 85 percent in the prior year, Amtrak officials said in a prepared statement.

In addition, if current service levels are maintained, Amtrak's state revenue in FY2014 should increase by $85 million, as the railroad and states implement a congressional requirement on cost allocation for short distance routes.

Amtrak also is requesting $2 billion in federal capital funding to maintain the Northeast Corridor and other Amtrak-owned or maintained infrastructure and equipment; advance the Gateway program to expand track, tunnel and station capacity between Newark, N.J., and New York Penn Station; acquire new equipment; and improve accessibility for passengers and disabilities. Furthermore, Amtrak requested $212 million for debt service.

"If we truly want to realize our vision of what rail can offer America, in terms of real mobility improvements and rational modal choices, policy decisions must be made and funding provided to match them," said Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman. "These are big decisions, and will require bold thinking, but they will deliver value for the money."

He noted that Amtrak ridership, revenue, on-time performance and other leading indicators are reaching record levels or registering improvements.

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More News from 4/1/2013