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House bill includes emergency funds for passenger rail, prohibits Amtrak cuts

July 09, 2020

Amtrak, commuter rail, and transit systems would get a huge boost in emergency funding under a draft bill approved this week by members of a House subcommittee.

The proposal would appropriate $5 billion in emergency funding for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor (NEC); $3 billion for its National Network; and $5 billion for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements program, which funds projects that “improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of intercity passenger and freight rail.”

The emergency funding is designed as an economic boost during the pandemic. It would be in addition to proposed core funding of $750 million for Amtrak’s NEC and $1.3 billion for the National Network in FY 2021. The funds would be contingent on Amtrak not cutting staff or routes. Amtrak has recently announced that it would reduce service on its core network, the long-distance routes, from daily to three times a week. Send a note to your members of Congress here.

The bill would also appropriate $5 billion in emergency funds for capital improvement grants and $3 billion for the BUILD program, which awards competitive grants for surface transportation (including public transportation) projects.

The draft bill moves on to a full House Appropriations Committee hearing for markup next week. It follows and builds on the House’s recent passage of an infrastructure plan that authorizes major new spending on Amtrak and other passenger rail and public transportation systems. That legislation outlines the vision and spending priorities of the House majority.

This week’s draft bill continues the process of pushing forward—and fleshing out—the House’s vision, and it sets the stage for negotiations with the Senate over the passage of a final bill.

Keeping rail at the top of legislators’ agenda will be vital through the summer and fall as Congress debates potential new stimulus packages and the Fast Track reauthorization. Sign the Alliance’s petition.

Read More:

Appropriations Committee Releases Fiscal Year 2021 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Funding Bill

For American High-Speed Rail, 2020 Could Be a Turning Point

Opinion: Stop Building More Roads

Critics Fear Amtrak Is Using Pandemic to Cut Service That Won’t Return

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Global Railway Review Industry Summit - July 29-30

This online event will examine the key issues facing the railway sector including what impact COVID-19 will have on the industry in the medium to long-term. Rick Harnish, HSRA Executive Director, will be presenting on July 30 at 11:00AM British Summer Time (5:00AM Central Daylite Time)

Brown Bag Lunch - Presentation by Rick Harnish, July 24 12:00PM Central Time

Join us for a quick update on what the Alliance is up to and an update on the legislative process in DC.

Cascadia High Speed Rail & Transforming America, July 13, 1:30PM Eastern Time

Learn about the state-of-the-art high speed rail system advancing in the Pacific Northwest planned to connect Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver, BC. Catch up on the latest studies, system details, benefits, schedule, and how this can help move America into 21st century transportation.