Senate Approves $11 Billion for Amtrak

WASHINGTON –  The U.S. Senate last week passed the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2007with a 70-22 vote.

This Amtrak reauthorization legislation provides $11.4 billion over six years to preserve America’s national passenger rail service. The legislation institutes additional Amtrak reforms aimed at reducing its reliance on federal subsidies by at least 40 percent during the bill’s life.

“Preserving national passenger rail service shouldn’t be based on partisan ideology or Amtrak’s profit margins,” Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said.  “Preserving Amtrak is about ensuring that America has a complete transportation system – one that includes planes, trains, lanes and ports.”

The legislation increases Amtrak’s bonding authority, and it provides incentives for states seeking to invest in Amtrak’s local routes to increase travel options.

“Rural states served by long Amtrak routes should be able to invest in those routes and help keep them serving local areas,” Lott said. “We need a national passenger rail system that is national in scope and not just limited to the Northeast Corridor.”

Also, the bill aims to enhance security on Amtrak, institute new quality standards and make other logistical reforms aimed at improving service quality for passengers and placing Amtrak on a solid financial footing.

“America needs the whole package of transportation options if we are to retain our position as the world’s largest and most prosperous economy,” Lott said. “I don’t want to see America scrap Amtrak and become the only industrialized nation with no passenger rail service.

“With the challenges we face on the energy front, and with the growing congestion of our airports and highways, it’s clear investing in passenger rail is a forward-thinking strategy that will pay off in the long run,” Lott added.

– Special to News Wire