WASHINGTON – Legislation that allocates $12.9 billion over five years for Amtrak creates for the first time a “federal funding partnership which places rail passenger service on a more equal footing with other modes,” Amtrak President and CEO Alex Kummant said.
Both the House and the Senate have approved the Federal Railroad Safety Improvement Act, which includes the money for Amtrak.
“The work on this authorization bill spanned nearly three congresses and does change the existing conditions for Amtrak, the rail industry and the states,” Kummant said.
“Apart from safety enhancements, the bill creates for the first time a state and federal funding partnership which places rail passenger service on a more equal footing with other modes, and encourages rail corridor development. Passage of this bill is a significant statement by Congress that will positively affect the traveling public for generations to come.”
The $12.9 billion includes $5.3 billion in capital grants, $2.9 billion in operating grants and $1.9 billion for grants to states for intercity passenger rail development. The bill must now be signed into law by the President, and Congress will need to pass annual appropriations bills to provide the funding levels authorized in the bill.
In addition to authorizing spending for rail expansion, the legislation reauthorizes and toughens rail safety programs, including requiring rail companies to equip cars with “positive train control” systems to help avoid collisions.
“Provisions in the bill that mandate positive train control across the industry will provide significant safeguards for the traveling public,” said Chairman of the Amtrak Board Donna McLean. “Amtrak prides itself as a leader in safety innovations. The Board supports the requirements of the bill and implementing them will be our highest priority.”
— Railfanning.org News Wire