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NARP Applauds Congressional Funding for Passenger Rail

Action comes on the heels of proposals to improve US passenger train service

Release #07-19—December 19, 2007

Washington, DC, December 19, 2007 — The 23,000-member National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) welcomed final passage today of the Fiscal 2008 omnibus spending package by the U.S. House of Representatives, clearing the legislation for presidential signature.

The bill contains the following provisions to improve passenger train travel:

  • $1.325 billion for Amtrak, a $31 million or 2.4% increase over the 2007 level, but $255 million less than Amtrak requested.
  • $30 million to reimburse states for capital costs of improving existing intercity passenger rail service and providing new service, with the federal share limited to a maximum of 50% of a project’s cost.
  • Permits the use of federal funds for new intercity passenger train routes.

“Congress has yet again rescued Amtrak from an Administration starvation budget. This legislation averts a shutdown, prevents backsliding, and lays the groundwork for a genuine federal-state partnership to fund better intercity passenger train service,” said Ross Capon, executive director of NARP.

Noting that even this budget only funds intercity passenger trains at a rate level with inflation, Capon continued, “We will continue to press for the sea change in transportation policy that will let us unlock the enormous benefits modern trains could bring to America’s gridlocked metropolitan regions and far-flung smaller communities.”

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative John Olver (D-MA) shepherded this section of the legislation through Congress, and Capon thanked them for their leadership in ensuring that Americans have a choice when choosing how to travel.

In June 2007, NARP proposed a vision for rail in America that this bill helps advance, a vision that was fleshed out by a subsequent proposal from Passenger Rail Working Group (PRWG) of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission released earlier this month.  NARP’s proposal is available here on our website and the PRWG’s proposal is on the Wisconsin Department of Transportation site.  The latter recommends initial federal funding of $5 billion a year.

About NARP

NARP is the largest citizen-based organization advocating for train and rail transit passengers. We have worked since 1967 to expand the quality and quantity of passenger rail in the U.S. Our mission is to work towards a modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want. Our work is supported by over 23,000 individual members.