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NARP Urges Senate to Protect Passengers from House Cuts to Amtrak

May 13, 2015

Release #15-10

For Immediate Release (#15-10) Contact: Ms. Benet J. Wilson

May 13, 2015 202-408-8362

NARP Urges Senate to Protect Passengers From House Cuts to Amtrak

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In the wake of the House Committee on Appropriations today failing to pass two positive amendments that would have provided much-needed capital funds for transit and Amtrak, the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) is calling on the Senate to step in and protect America's passengers from these ill-considered, irresponsible cuts.

The Appropriations Committee voted down two pro-passenger amendments along party lines. The first would have provided $1.3 billion for capital investment grants and doubled the budget for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. The second focused solely on providing an additional $1.3 billion for Amtrak. Instead, the Committee approved $1.14 billion for Amtrak for Fiscal Year 2016 -- a $262 million cut from $1.39 billion enacted in FY2015.

The cuts are all the more indefensible coming only a day after a deadly Amtrak accident on the Northeast Corridor that claimed the lives of seven passengers. [Read NARP’s statement on the accident.] The NTSB is currently investigating the cause of the accident, and is expected to issue a preliminary statement later today.

"It is true that we don’t know the specific cause that triggered yesterday’s tragedy,” said NARP President Jim Mathews. “But several things are certain: Amtrak’s Northeast corridor—the busiest rail corridor in the Western Hemisphere—faces a $52 billion maintenance backlog that is hindering the efficient movement of trains, the average age of Amtrak’s equipment is 28 years old, and its fleet is rapidly aging beyond its usable lifespan.”

Transportation providers all across the U.S. are struggling to find enough funds to implement Positive Train Control and sufficiently protect grade crossings, said Mathews. “These are two safety investments that could have prevented two deadly train accidents in the Northeast within the past 12 months,” he said. “We don’t need to wait to hear from the NTSB to know that we are failing to invest at sufficient levels. This House Appropriations bill is a disservice to America’s passengers.”

For information about the derailment of Amtrak Train #188 in Philadelphia, click here.

About the National Association of Railroad Passengers

NARP is the only national organization speaking for the users of passenger trains and rail transit. We have worked since 1967 to expand the quality and quantity of passenger rail in the U.S. Our mission is to work towards a modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want. Our work is supported by more than 28,000 individual members nationwide.