Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Some notes from Nebraska

The McCook paper has a remarkably complete story which perfectly states the case for Amtrak service to rural America. (Yeah, the headline writer should be administered a sound thrashing. It’s still a good story.)

Today, the United States Senate passed legislation to authorize $11.4 billion in total funding for Amtrak rail service over the next five years. Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson applauded the passage of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2007 (S. 294).

“Particularly for rural states like Nebraska, we have to make sure that there are viable transportation options. Amtrak must have the resources necessary to maintain and improve its services,” said Senator Nelson. “Nebraska’s future relies on remaining connected to the region and the rest of the nation.”

The bill aims to reduce Amtrak’s federal operating subsidy by 40 percent and requires Amtrak to become more efficient through increased revenue and ridership, cost containment, and management improvements. The reauthorization bill also requires performance improvement among the long-distance lines, such as the California Zephyr which runs through Omaha, Lincoln, Hastings, Holdrege, and McCook.

Last week, Senator Nelson joined the successful effort to block an amendment that would have arbitrarily capped subsidies on long-distance routes. This cap would have likely resulted in the termination of the California Zephyr – Nebraska’s only passenger rail service.

“This amendment would have eliminated Amtrak for Nebraska,” said Senator Nelson. “It would have stripped the railroad of needed flexibility to improve and ensure the future of America’s railroads. I will always put the needs of Nebraska first and reject attempts to balance the budget on the backs of our state.”

Filed under: Amtrak

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