Carper: “Now is not the Time to Abandon Amtrak”

WILMINGTON, DE – Amtrak’s announcement of $290 million in new cuts is a call for Congressional action, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) said today. For Amtrak to continue providing long-term quality service, Congress must pass a comprehensive rail security bill, create a dedicated a source of capital funding for rail, and pass necessary reauthorization measures. “This is not an omen of Amtrak’s demise, but the results of Congress’ continued neglect of our national rail service. Clearly, Congress must enact a dedicated source of capital funding for Amtrak,” said Carper. “This is not the time to abandon national passenger rail. It’s the time for Congress to fulfill its obligations.” A spokesperson for Amtrak said that it would be making $120 million in operating cuts and $170 million in capital cuts in order to keep the railroad running through the end of this year. Due to the lack of federal capital funding, the majority of Amtrak’s capital plan is privately funded. “This will be a difficult fight, but a necessary one,” Carper said. “Amtrak’s revenues and ridership is up on important lines. They are doing their job, and doing it better every week. It’s Congress that has fallen asleep at the switches.” 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 these expenses alone. A supplemental rail security allocation would both improve the safety of Amtrak passengers and help the railroad meet its financial obligations. “When the planes were grounded after September 11, Amtrak stepped in to move emergency personnel, passengers and equipment from one end of the country to the other. To the surprise of many, Amtrak emerged as the key component of our transportation system during our time of national crisis,” Carper said. “A rail safety package would both better protect passengers and address some of Amtrak’s funding shortfalls.”