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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Sen. Durbin: House passenger rail bill needs drastic modifications


U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Wednesday called for drastic changes to the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act (PRRIA) of 2015, which was passed by the House in March. In a letter he penned to members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, he also called on the committee to prioritize Illinois-related service as it considers legislation related to passenger rail.

Durbin told the committee that the current PRRIA bill would have a significant impact on Illinois and across the country because it would reduce Amtrak funding levels by 40 percent.

"I am concerned that the authorization levels in the House bill are insufficient and limit the potential investment in Amtrak in future years," Durbin wrote. "I encourage you to include robust authorization levels to ensure Amtrak can grow and expand across the country, especially in Illinois."

He also decried the bill's proposal to create separate lines of business for Amtrak's Northeast Corridor (NEC) and service nationwide. Doing so could harm the functionality of the overall system, he wrote.

"Each component — long-distance, state-supported, and NEC — is critical in the whole of this system, and investment in each part is the foundation of expanding a robust system," Durbin wrote. "Taxpayer funds in Illinois and other Midwest states throughout the years have helped make the NEC successful and profitable."