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1/17/2007



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Senators reintroduce Amtrak investment, improvement bill


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Yesterday, Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.) introduced the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2007 (S. 294), a six-year bill that would provide $19.2 billion for Amtrak. In 2005, the senators introduced similar legislation, which was approved by the Senate but not taken up by the House.

S. 294 would provide the national intercity passenger railroad $3.2 billion annually, including $1.9 billion in annual appropriations and $1.3 billion in bond authority, with an average of $300 million in capital grants to be allocated to states annually. The bill also would provide funds to improve Amtrak's security, bring the Northeast Corridor to a state of good repair and authorize the Surface Transportation Board to fine freight railroads that delay Amtrak trains.

In addition, S. 294 would require Amtrak to reduce operating costs by 40 percent over the life of the bill, implement a new accounting system, establish quality standards that would be evaluated regularly by the Federal Railroad Administration and restructure its board to include nine bipartisan members.

“Congress is long overdue in acting on a bill requiring Amtrak to meet realistic goals in return for a funding stream,” said Lott in a prepared statement. “We can’t keep asking Amtrak to operate like a business while we string along the company year to year.”




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