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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Senate bill would help Amtrak enforce passenger-rail preference law


U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced a bill yesterday that would enable Amtrak to take freight host railroads to court to enforce a law that requires freight railroads to provide preference to passenger trains operating on their rail lines.

Durbin's legislation follows an Amtrak inspector general's report published last month that said Amtrak trains nationwide were late 27 percent of the time in fiscal-year 2018, and nearly 60 percent of the delays were due to freight-railroad interference.

The bill would provide Amtrak with the "power to improve its passenger-rail service and efficiency,” said Durbin in a press release.

"By empowering Amtrak to hold the freight railroads accountable when they don’t follow the law, we can improve Amtrak on-time performance and save taxpayer dollars," Durbin said.

Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson described Durbin's bill as "critical" to Amtrak improving its on-time performance.

"Some railroads over which Amtrak operates have ignored the passenger preference law for far too long, delaying our customers by more than 1 million minutes last year,” Anderson said in the press release.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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