House Committee Favors Amtrak Funding Boost

A House committee has recommended a slight funding boost for Amtrak in federal fiscal year 2020.

The House Appropriations Committee on Transportation and Housing last week released its transportation budget for FY 2020, which calls for $146 million for passenger rail and $60 million for transit compared with the funding approved for fiscal year 2019.

Amtrak’s national network would receive $1.2 billion, the same as it received in the current fiscal year. The Trump administration had recommended $661 million.

Northeast Corridor funding would rise to $700 million compared to $650 million appropriated in FY2019. The administration had recommended $325 million.

The committee also attached some policy riders in its budget including a provision directing the U.S. Department of Transportation to case seeking to claw back funds already awarded for the California high-speed rail network that is under construction.

U.S. DOT was also directed to stop dragging its feet on certain rail and transit grant programs. A clause was inserted in the legislation directing that if funds for transit grant programs aren’t awarded to new project by the end of 2021 those funds should be channeled to projects already in the engineering phase.

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One Response to “House Committee Favors Amtrak Funding Boost”

  1. Rail Provocateur Says:

    When will the House actually demand an accounting of how such funding is spent; verify it is within that fiscal year?

    Also, importantly, to identify to what extent-in detail-funds designated for the National Network are re-directed by Amtrak internally to the NEC, as well as how payments from state-supported corridors are used to subsidized the NEC?

    As California’s three JPAs have their act together with detailed plans for expanding intercity schedules on an inter-regional basis, why has the House not received, and acted upon, a grand plan to finance? For example, to facilitate increased frequencies and the potential for express schedules between SAN-LA, LOSSAN requires funding to continue to double track the ex-ATSF line, as well as construct a third main to accommodate BNSF freight traffic.

    Would funding of intercity and inter-regional passenger rail not be more effective if it was achieved from master plans over a number of years, instead of the “drip, drip, drip” per annual budget year? This would also apply to securing new equipment.

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