“National Defense Interstate Rail Act” Improves Passenger Safety, Funds National Passenger Rail Service, Carper Joins Biden, Others as Original Co-Sponsor of Chairman Hollings’ Bill
WASHINGTON, DC â€“ Senator Tom Carper announced that rail passengers will be better protected and national passenger rail service would be better established under the “National Defense Interstate Rail Act,” which was introduced in the Senate today. The bill authorizes $1.26 billion in one-time security improvements and $4.6 billion annually for development of national passenger rail. “Passenger rail is a vital part of our national transportation network but for too long Congress and the White House have failed to fund it adequately. We must make the capital improvements Amtrak needs, not let it wither. This bill does that and more,” said Carper, a former member of the Amtrak Board of Directors. “Congress acted after 9/11 to upgrade security at airports but never took action to improve the security of our trains which move millions of people each month.” The bill improves passenger rail service nationally by authorizing $15 billion annually for five years to develop new high-speed rail corridors and $580 million annually for operating costs and improving fleets and infrastructure on Amtrak’s long-distance routes. In exchange for these investments, the bill demands increased account transparency from Amtrak and an independent audit of Amtrak’s finances. The bill also sets aside $1.310 billion in improvements for rail service in Delaware and other states along the Northeast Corridor, including $720 million for infrastructure improvements including improvements on bridges and tunnels and interlocking and signal system renewal; $100 million for fleet improvements; $70 million for stations and facility improvements; $20 million for technology upgrades for reservation, distribution, financial, and operating systems; and $400 million for corridor growth to increase capacity/speeds on the NEC. Detailed fact sheets provided by Commerce Chairman Hollings’ Office are attached. Senator Carper is available for interviews by phone and at the Amtrak station this evening or Thursday morning to answer questions.