Amtrak Gets Most of Requested Funding

WASHINGTON – Congress on Feb. 13 passed legislation granting Amtrak a $1.05 billion operating and capital grant for the 2003 fiscal year. Additionally, repayment of a June 28, 2002, $100 million from the U.S. DOT loan from has been deferred.

“We have no plans to shut down,” Amtrak spokeswoman Karina Van Veen told Gannett News Service.

Amtrak’s $1.2 billion request for the fiscal year was predicated upon projected revenue levels and tight controls on spending. Despite the appropriation, Amtrak still believes sustaining operations will be an ongoing challenge.

“Though the budget will be extremely tight, this funding level should be sufficient to operate the national system for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends September 30, 2003,” Amtrak said in a Feb. 14 statement. “Amtrak will continue to bring greater levels of efficiency to its operations without degrading the level of service to our customers and the safety we provide to our customers and employees.”

Amtrak President David Gunn has said anything less than $1.2 billion in funding may force the railroad to cut operations.

“My concern that federal funding substantially less than $1.2 billion in FY ‘03 will take us right back to the near-shutdown we experienced last summer,” he said Jan. 15.

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