This item is in today’s mail. With God’s help, I will turn 63 this August. In this lifetime, I cannot recall a time when passenger trains were up against the ropes. Around the world, rail intercity passenger service has flourished while American trains limped along at 50 mph. This is a sorry state of affairs and even more bad news for small town America, which depends on decent passenger train service to remain connected to teh nation’s cities. This network was decimated in the 60s and70s so that today there is almost no memory of a time when one could take the train. This is by no means a sentimental appeal to preserve a historic artifact, but a call to use modern technology to conveniently move large numbers of people best served by ground services.
House Appropriators released a draft bill today that slashes Amtrak’s budget by a third. NARP responded immediately with a press release denouncing the proposal as unacceptable: The National Association of Railroad Passengers announced that it will fight implementation of the House Appropriation Committee’s Fiscal Year 2014 transportation funding levels. The draft bill, which the subcommittee will consider tomorrow, slashes Amtrak’s budget by a third, threatening the very existence of Amtrak. The bill also fails to include funding for the High Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Program. Not only does the bill include no new funding for the highly over-subscribed TIGER grantsa competitive, multi-modal program where rail has competed wellit rescinds $237 million in previously appropriated FY 2013 TIGER funding that is not yet obligated.
The House proposal denies state and local leaders the resources they need to develop the modern transportation network necessary for mobility and economic growth. It comes as economic experts and the International Monetary Fund criticize the U.S. for plunging ahead with austerity even as low interest rates make borrowing for projects unusually affordable, America’s unemployment rate remains unacceptably high, and the need for transportation infrastructure investment is widely acknowledged.
The House committee’s bill has just $950 million for Amtrak, a 29% cut from the final 2013 number [$1,344 million]. This includes a $350 million operating grant (21% below the FY 2013 level), and $600 million in capital (33.5% below FY 2013). <http://org2.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=fOcum5bGSC4Xm9xXajM7ccs4i37FSIE%2F>[Read the full press release here] NARP will be launching a campaign to rally support for Amtrak and passenger trains soon, so stay tuned for more developments. In the meantime, you can pass the word of this alarming proposal on to your local elected officials, your friends, and your family help us stand up for trains!