How we can really make a difference for the future of passenger rail

On this Independence Day, let’s make democracy work for the future of American passenger rail.

Please contact your elected officials–Senators, US Representatives, state legislators, and local leaders (find their contact information here)–and tell them that you want a strong, safe and reliable network of passenger trains that serve the entire country.

Specifically, ask them to make the following changes to the current laws governing passenger rail:

  • Repeal Section 209 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA). This is the provision that requires train routes less than 750 miles long to be paid for by the states.
  • Repeal the provisions that require Amtrak to break even on food and beverage service.
  • Require that Amtrak give two years’ notice before discontinuing train routes. If any route is discontinued, this would be the minimum time needed for a single state or group of states to put together funding to replace the service. And if local funding is found for such a service, require that local agencies be given the same access to the Class I freight infrastructure that Amtrak currently has.
  • Codify that the existing services are the minimum that Amtrak can provide in order to maintain a national passenger rail network.
  • Split Amtrak’s Federal appropriation into three parts: the national network, the regional corridors, and the Northeast Corridor. Specify that income from one part cannot be used to subsidize another part.
  • Require that Amtrak use transparent accounting.
  • If a route must be suspended due to acts of God (mudslides, tunnel collapses, etc.) Amtrak is required to make substantial steps to provide alternative transportation (paid for by the host railroad, if applicable). Amtrak is required to restart its service as soon as feasible and track conditions permit.
  • Encourage Amtrak to pursue income from ancillary services, such as carrying private passenger cars (PV).

Remember, it’s we the taxpayers, and our elected representatives, who make the decisions about the future of passenger rail. So contact your elected officials, and don’t forget to register to vote! The registration deadline is coming soon in many states.

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