House Agrees to Reauthorize Amtrak

WASHINGTON — The House today agreed to a nearly $15 bill bill that reauthorizes Amtrak and aims to improve intercity rail. The bill was approved by a 311-104 margin. The Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008. The bill authorizes $14.4 billion for Amtrak capital and operating grants, state intercity passenger grants and high-speed rail over the next five years. “Nothing could be more fitting to bring before the Congress today, on a day when gasoline has reached $4.05 a gallon across the United States on average,” The Associated Press quotes U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., as saying. Mica,

Commuter Rail Study Discussed in Fla.

WASHINGTON — Commuter Rail proponents will gather in a strategy meeting in support of commuter rail today at the Orlando International Airport to hear the results of a nationwide commuter rail liability report that was reviewed by the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Highways and Transit and Railroads Subcommittees. “It will debunk some of the myths relating to Commuter Rail liability,” U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said. Proponents of commuter rail have cited liability provisions contained in the agreement between the State of Florida and CSX as the major impediment to moving forward with the project. The State legislature

House to Discuss Amtrak Reauthorization Bill

WASHINGTON — The House was today expected to discuss a bill to reauthorize Amtrak and improve intercity passenger rail. Last month, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved HR 6003, the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008. The bill authorizes $14.4 billion for Amtrak capital and operating grants, state intercity passenger grants, and high-speed rail over the next five years. Even if the house approves the bill, it faces a tough road since President Bush has said he supports a self-sufficient Amtrak. Major provisions of the bill include: – Authorizing $4.2 billion (an average of $840 million per

Senators Want to Look at Proposed CSX Investors

WASHINGTON — Democratic and Republican senators want an investigation into the push that foreign investors are making to take control of CSX, according to a published report. “Very little is known about the investors in the TCI group or those investors’ agenda,” the senators said in a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, USA Today reported. “They are anonymous and invisible to government regulators” and could be fronts for foreign governments.” TCI is a hedge fund that formed a group to nominate a slate of directors to stand for election at the 2008 CSX annual meeting. In March, CSX filed

Senate Committee Reschedules NTSB Hearing

WASHINGTON — The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation announces that the Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security Subcommittee NTSB Reauthorization Hearing scheduled for 10 a.m. June 5 has been postponed. A new date and time for the hearing will be announced as soon as it is available. The hearing is expected to focus on the activities of the NTSB and its legislative reauthorization proposal. The NTSB’s current authorization expires on Sept. 30. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., will chair the hearing.

Congressmen Oppose CN’s Request for Expedited Review

WASHINGTON — Sens. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., have sent a joint letter to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) stating their opposition to Canadian National’s request for an expedited environmental review and decision on its pending acquisition of the EJ&E Railroad. “Given the impact of this acquisition on local communities throughout Northwest Indiana, it’s important that the STB have the time for careful consideration of the deal,” Bayh said. “I believe strongly that area residents should be given the opportunity for a thoughtful, public review and the chance to voice concerns and have

Norfolk Southern Names Voyack to Government Relations Post

WASHINGTON — Frank Voyack has been named Norfolk Southern Corp.’s government relations director. Headquartered in Washington, Voyack will be responsible for lobbying Congress, coordinating government relations programs and policies and implementing legislative strategies. He will report to Marque I. Ledoux, assistant vice president government relations — federal. Voyack started his work on Capitol Hill in the office of Congressman Norman Sisisky of Virginia before moving to the International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers, where he spent 18 years in various legislative positions. He is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and Georgetown University. “Frank’s breadth of experience

Bloomberg Supports Mica’s High Speed Rail Plan

NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is supporting a Republican legislator’s plan to solicit proposals for high speed rail in the Northeast Corridor and other corridors around the nation. A plan from U.S. Rep. John L. Mica, R-Fla., “demonstrates the kind of ambitious, pragmatic thinking about our future,” Bloomberg said. “Investing in modern mass transportation is critical to New York’s future, and all options should be on the table. No idea should be ignored or dismissed simply because it is ambitious. That is not how America’s greatest infrastructure marvels — from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Grand

Mica: Partnership Needed to Improve Nation’s Rail Network

WASHINGTON — The country needs a partnership among “freight railroads, the federal government, Amtrak and other stakeholders” in order to improve the nation’s transportation system and protect the environment, a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee says. “When we look for ways to improve our nation’s transportation system and protect the environment, nothing should be a higher priority than improving our rail capacity – for freight, passenger and high speed service,” said U.S. Rep. John L. Mica, R-Fla. “I am concerned that one tool we already have for improving capacity – the Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RIFF) loan program

Commerce Committee Announces NTSB Reauthorization Hearing

WASHINGTON — The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security Subcommittee will hold an NTSB reauthorization hearing. The hearing will focus on the activities of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and its legislative reauthorization proposal. The NTSB’s current authorization expires on Sept. 30. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., will chair the hearing, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. June 5.

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