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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

House subcommittee proposes $1.4 billion for Amtrak in FY09


Last week, the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development approved $1.4 billion for Amtrak in fiscal-year 2009. The appropriation represents a slight increase over the current funding level, but is below Amtrak’s request of $1.8 billion, according to the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP).

The legislation would provide $475 million for operational support and $850 million for capital grants and debt service, as well as $114 million for union workers’ back pay and subsequent labor agreements. In addition, the subcommittee proposed providing $60 million in federal matching grants for states seeking to improve intercity passenger-rail service.

But Amtrak will need its full requested amount, as well as additional money to repair and return to service nearly 80 rail cars that currently are sitting idle, NARP said. Repairing the cars should be a priority because it’s the fastest way to add capacity to handle the large number of passengers flocking to Amtrak’s system, the association added. During the past seven months, ridership has jumped 11 percent.