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Rail News: Amtrak

High-speed rail leader cries foul over Rep. Ryan's proposal to end Amtrak funding


U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) unveiled a federal budget plan earlier this week that would eliminate subsidies to Amtrak and trim transportation costs in other areas as part of his proposal to slash more than $5 trillion in federal government spending over the next decade.

In his last year as chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan seeks to end funding for Amtrak's operating subsidies; reduce funding to the Transportation Security Administration; and shore up the Highway Trust Fund by aligning spending with incoming revenue.

Ryan's call to end Amtrak subsidies drew sharp criticism from Midwest High Speed Rail Association Director Richard Harnish, who said the congressman's plan would spell the end of the national passenger-rail system.

"When it comes to Amtrak, he aims not merely to reduce the expenditure, but to eradicate it completely," Harnish said in a prepared statement issued yesterday.

Harnish noted that Amtrak ridership has been on the upswing in recent years, and that many states and major cities are developing plans to improve and modernize passenger-rail services to make them safer and more cost effective.

"This is not the first time that Amtrak has come under budgetary attack," he said. "There are always short-sighted politicians who fail to recognize the economic generating power of a nationwide railway system."

Harnish encouraged Congress to "invest in our train system, don't kill it."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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