Category Archives: Legislation

Anti-rail amendments fail in US House

All of the anti-Amtrak amendments sponsored by Rep. Posey of Florida and Rep. Sessions of Texas have failed in this evening’s votes, with both Republicans and Democrats supporting rail. Click the links below for a lists of how your representative voted. If they voted for rail, please thank them!

Rep. Sessions’ H.Amdt.407: An amendment to prohibit the use of funds to support Amtrak’s route with the highest loss, measured by contributions/(loss) per rider. This amendment would target the Sunset Limited (Louisiana – California). https://www.congress.gov/amendment/114th-congress/house-amendment/407

Rep. Sessions’ H.Amdt.409: An amendment to prohibit the use of funds to support any Amtrak route whose costs exceed two times its revenues. https://www.congress.gov/amendment/114th-congress/house-amendment/409

Rep. Posey’s H.Amdt.405: An amendment to prohibit the use of funds by the Department of Transportation to take any actions with respect to the financing of passenger rail projects along Florida’s East Coast.https://www.congress.gov/amendment/114th-congress/house-amendment/405

Rep. Posey’s H.Amdt.411 https://www.congress.gov/amendment/114th-congress/house-amendment/411 : An amendment to prohibit the use of funds by the Department of Transportation to authorize exempt facility bonds to finance passenger rail projects that cannot attain the speed of 150 mph.

Rep. Posey’s H.AMDT.413: An amendment to prohibit the use of funds by the Department of Transportation to make a loan in an amount that exceeds $600 million under the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act.

7:24:20 P.M. H.R. 2577 On agreeing to the Posey amendment; Failed by recorded vote: 163 – 260 (Roll no. 313).
7:27:55 P.M. H.R. 2577 On agreeing to the Sessions amendment; Failed by recorded vote: 205 – 218 (Roll no. 314).
7:31:41 P.M. H.R. 2577 On agreeing to the Sessions amendment; Failed by recorded vote: 186 – 237 (Roll no. 315).
7:40:40 P.M. H.R. 2577 On agreeing to the Posey amendment; Failed by recorded vote: 148 – 275 (Roll no. 317).
7:45:53 P.M. H.R. 2577 On agreeing to the Posey amendment; Failed by recorded vote: 134 – 287 (Roll no. 318).

House bill cuts Amtrak funding 40 percent

The House is proposing a 40 percent funding cut for Amtrak in a new passenger rail bill that was unveiled on Thursday by the chamber’s Transportation Committee.

Amtrak has received about $1 billion per year from the federal government since its inception in 1971. But Republican leaders on the panel said the long-overdue rail funding measure would force the company to streamline its operations and survive mostly on the money that is generated by ticket sales.

The bill is unlikely to be approved by lawmakers before this year’s elections.

http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/217411-house-rail-bill-cuts-amtrak-funding-40-percent

The bill also has some odd provisions, including one about boarding procedures, and another about “reinvesting profits from the NEC.”

Amtrak to STB: Investigate CN

Amtrak on Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014, made clear in part its frustration over its own on-time performance by calling on the Surface Transportation Board to look into the matter, specifically as it concerns Canadian National Railway.

“In support of passengers, state partners and its own business operations, Amtrak is taking action to improve the on-time performance (OTP) of its trains that operate over tracks controlled by other railroads,” Amtrak said in a statement. “Under federal law, Amtrak has a statutory right to preference in the dispatching of intercity passenger trains before freight trains.

Amtrak said it specifically “is seeking an investigation of Canadian National Railway (CN) for causing unacceptable train delays on the Illini/Saluki service that uses the CN line from Chicago to Carbondale, Ill.” Amtrak notes that on-time performance of such service “was 49% for the quarter ending June 30, and just 42% for the prior quarter. In fact, the OTP for this state-supported service has been below 80% for three solid years and below 60% for most of that time.”

Amtrak said it is “taking this action under Section 213 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) which mandates that the STB initiate an investigation upon the filing of a complaint by Amtrak if the OTP of an intercity passenger train falls below 80% for two consecutive quarters.”

From Railway Age

Poll: WI residents support passenger rail

Time to badger Congress for Amtrak expansion

In Wisconsin, 85% of residents say they want Amtrak funding increased or maintained at current levels, according to a new survey.

It’s been more than 150 years since railroad fever first brought rail service to the Badger State. And while just about everything else has changed in the last century and a half, one thing hasn’t: Wisconsinites still love trains and in particular are fans of our national passenger railroad, Amtrak.

new survey of Wisconsin residents sends a clear message that expanding Amtrak service must be a part of the state’s transportation future….

And those views transcend party politics and labels. Indeed, one of the only places where Amtrak is not in demand is in Congress, where some lawmakers are still peddling unpopular budgets for Amtrak that would bankrupt the railroad.

With Congress preparing to rewrite the law that governs Amtrak, now is the time for elected officials to listen to their constituents.

In Wisconsin, 85% of residents say they want Amtrak funding increased or maintained at current levels, according to the survey. Very few want to see its funding eliminated. Nearly three out of four Wisconsin residents want the option of additional service to Minneapolis-St. Paul and Chicago. There is overwhelming support for expanded service across all demographic groups, all of whom have no problem with the $1 billion yearly federal investment in Amtrak, and many who would like to see it expanded.

Interestingly, the strong support for Amtrak in Wisconsin comes despite the fact that residents currently have limited rail service options. Nearly 80% said they have not been a passenger on Amtrak in the past two years; no surprise here given that the carrier provides only one long-distance train and one corridor service. These views also contrast with Wisconsin’s governor, who, in 2011, sent $850 million in already approved passenger rail funds back to the federal government.

The popularity of Amtrak transcends blue state/red state divisions, offering a striking example of nonpartisan pragmatism that elected leaders would do well to emulate. In fact, Amtrak’s favorable/unfavorable rating was 66%-18% among Republicans and 67%-21% among conservatives. After all, providing passenger rail service is not a Democratic or Republican issue; it’s a public interest issue.

Senate’s proposed transportation bill disappoints, but there’s more to come

The future of national transportation policy is pretty much like the present of national transportation policy, if the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has its way: underfunded and highway-centric.

The bill released by Senator Barbara Boxer’s EPW Committee yesterday… rejects pretty much everything the Obama administration put forth in its bill, including permanent funding for TIGER and the elimination of red tape that prevents states from tolling interstates. The administration called for spending $302 billion over four years, while the EPW bill envisions a $265 billion budget over six years — although that figure does not include transit or rail.

And that’s part of the problem. The administration put forward a comprehensive, multi-modal transportation bill proposal. But in the Senate, the process is shepherded by EPW, and EPW only writes the highway component of the bill, then hands it over to the Banking Committee for the transit piece and the Commerce Committee for the rail and safety piece. And of course, nothing at all will happen unless the Senate Finance Committee can find a way to pay for it.

Streetsblog

GROW AMERICA keeps rail passengers moving forward

From the US Department of Transportation’s FastLane blog:

Last Tuesday, it was a privilege to be able to send Congress the GROW AMERICA transportation bill, our comprehensive plan to create millions of good new jobs building the transportation system America will need to remain competitive in today’s economy. And it was an honor to cap the day by addressing the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) annual citizen advocacy event, “NARP Day on the Hill.” Continue reading GROW AMERICA keeps rail passengers moving forward

President Proposes $19 Billion for Rail; Let’s Make it Happen!

The proposal to provide $19 billion for improved rail service needs us to be active supporters and lobbyists if it’s going to happen. We’d like to turn this site into an online community where we could share information and ideas, and encourage people to become active spokespeople for better train service. We can also support NARP and the local rail advocacy organizations in their efforts.