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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Passenger coalition seeks funding approval for Amtrak, high-speed rail


Wednesday, the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) sent a letter to House and Senate negotiators in conference on a bill that will decide the fiscal-year 2012 budget for Amtrak and the national high-speed rail program.

The NARP letter asked lawmakers to endorse the Senate-passed funding levels of $1.48 billion for Amtrak and $100 million for the High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Program, NARP officials said in a prepared statement.

The letter warned that a House subcommittee’s earlier call to cut Amtrak funding and zero-out funding for high-speed rail would have a “corrosive” impact on the nation’s passenger-rail network.

“We believe the House subcommittee’s draconian operating-grant reduction to $227 million would force an Amtrak shutdown,” the letter stated, according to NARP’s press release. “Equally unacceptable is the House subcommittee’s provision to prohibit the use of Amtrak’s operating funds on short-distance routes.”

Even though the Senate-passed appropriations bill would reduce Amtrak funding, the reductions are “modest” by comparison, NARP officials stated. Amtrak would have to “significantly reduce its workforce” and end work on a backlog of deferred investment in Northeast Corridor infrastructure under the Senate version, they said.

Still, the Senate version provides the “best chance” for Amtrak to respond to “soaring demand” for its service, said NARP officials, citing the national intercity passenger-rail service’s record 30.2 million ridership in FY2011.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/11/2011