Amtrak turned 42 years old this month, and the railroad’s president says it is time for a “dedicated, multi-year federal operating and capital funding for Amtrak and intercity passenger rail.”
The national railroad, created as a result of the President Richard Nixon-signed Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970, took over passenger service from struggling railroads, and its first train, The Clocker, departed from Union Station in New York at 12:05 a.m. on May 1, 1971. Today, the railroad operates 305 weekday trains across a network of 21,100 rail miles.
“With record ridership and strong financial performance, Amtrak is successfully fulfilling its national mission and daily demonstrating its value to the country,” President and CEO Joe Boardman said in a statement. “However, Amtrak has been underfunded and has too many conflicting missions with only year to year funding to plan, build and maintain safe infrastructure and provide national surface transportation mobility and connectivity. In addition, multiple layers of oversight have been added to what Congress intended to be a ‘private’ company that carries out public policy.”
Added Boardman: “If Congress provides predictable and needed levels of federal funding support, Amtrak and our state partners can better deliver a future of improved reliability, enhanced capacity, more service, increased speeds and reduced trip times on the Northeast Corridor and other passenger rail corridors around the country, including the development of new ones.