Permanent Funding for Amtrak?

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
New legislation proposes a federal trust fund for Amtrak to which approximately $5.4 billion would be added annually in grants for “repairs, trip time optimizing investments, improving service, modernizing the fleet and other needs.”

New legislation proposes a federal trust fund for Amtrak to which approximately $5.4 billion would be added annually in grants for “repairs, trip time optimizing investments, improving service, modernizing the fleet and other needs.”

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) have introduced the Intercity Passenger Rail Trust Fund Act to create a dedicated funding stream for Amtrak.

The Act would establish a new federal trust fund to which approximately $5.4 billion would be added annually in grants for “repairs, trip time optimizing investments, improving service, modernizing the fleet and other needs,” the two legislators said, noting that 40% would be reserved for the Northeast Corridor (Washington-New York-Boston service) and 60% for state-supported and long-distance service lines.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)

In addition, funds would “remain available until expended, and could be used for both capital and operating needs,” according to the bill text (download below).

“This bill envisions the long-term, steady funding commitment to our nation’s intercity passenger rail system necessary to ensure it is safe and reliable for passengers today and long into the future,” Blumenthal said.

“An intercity passenger rail trust fund would be a game changer for America and for Amtrak,” Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn said.

Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn

“Nearly every mode of transportation already has a trust fund except for intercity passenger rail. Providing dedicated and predictable funding to Amtrak would help us increase efficiency and improve planning, helping us advance major bridge and tunnel projects, and provide energy efficient transportation to more customers, including underserved communities across the nation,” Flynn continued. “We thank Senator Blumenthal and Congressman Davis for their introduction of this important bicameral legislation and urge Congress to consider its passage.”

The legislation is also co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). A similar version of the bill was introduced in the House.

Categories: High Performance, Intercity, News, Passenger, Regulatory Tags: ,