Carper: Senate will Reject ARC Proposal to Eliminate Amtrak,
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) rejected today the Amtrak Reform Council’s demand that Amtrak break up into three private entities and cease operation. He urged other Senators to reject it as well. Instead of implementing the ARC’s decision to destroy the company, Carper said Congress must pass a comprehensive rail security bill, create a dedicated a source of capital funding for rail, and pass necessary reauthorization measures. “The commission has been, and continues to be, on the wrong track. With Amtrak revenues and ridership climbing on critical lines, this was the wrong suggestion at the worst possible time,” said Carper, a former member of the Amtrak Board of Directors. “The ARC’s recommendation is only that – a recommendation. It does not, and will not, ever have the force of law.” Due to the lack of federal capital funding, the majority of Amtrak’s capital plan has been privately funded. A vital part of Amtrak’s reauthorization must be a dedicated source of capital funding to give national passenger rail the infrastructure it needs to become profitable. After September 11th, Congress acted to better ensure the safety of airline passengers but shirked its responsibility to support rail security efforts, leaving Amtrak to cover the majority of these expenses alone. A supplemental rail security allocation would both improve the safety of Amtrak passengers and help the railroad meet its financial obligations. “Congress must make the capital investments Amtrak needs, not thank them for thirty years of service by putting thousands of Amtrak employees out of work,” Carper said. Railroading is a capital-intensive operation. Regular maintenance is required for capital investments such as train stations, overhead wires, tracks, passenger and cafe cars, rail switches, and numerous other capital projects. Amtrak has had to carry on this service without a dedicated source of capital funding.