Bill Will Increase Infrastructure Investments in Amtrak, Other Intercity Rail Services
Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto) yesterday joined a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives to support legislation that reauthorizes Amtrak through fiscal year 2013, and also creates a new capital grants program for states to provide new or improved intercity passenger rail. H.R. 6003, the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act was approved by a 311 - 104 vote.
"With gas prices on the rise, it is more critical than ever that the United States invest in alternate means of transportation," said Rep. Baca. "This responsible legislation will fully fund Amtrak at $4.2 billion over the next five years. This investment will ensure rail-cars and tracks remain in a state-of-good-repair, rehabilitate many of our rail-bridges, and make additional improvements and maintenance across the Amtrak system."
H.R. 6003 reauthorizes Amtrak through FY 2013. Amtrak's authorization had expired in 2002, but the Republican-controlled Congress failed to reauthorize Amtrak over the last five years. Not only does H.R. 6003 adequately fund Amtrak over the next five years, but the legislation also creates a new capital grants program to encourage states to provide more intercity passenger rail options for commuters. The bill authorizes $2.5 billion over the next five years in grants to pay for the capital costs of facilities and equipment necessary for new passenger rail.
In addition, H.R. 6003:
Authorizes funding for 11 high-speed rail corridors, so the United States can establish a high-speed rail network that spans the entire country;
Authorizes grants to reduce congestion at rail choke points' to improve Amtrak service; and,
Creates a federal mechanism to mediate disputes between commuter and freight rail providers.
"This bill is not just good transportation policy, it is also good energy policy," concluded Rep. Baca. "Passenger rail is more energy efficient that both cars and airplanes, and helps to reduce global warming because it cuts in half the carbon dioxide impact per passenger. After years of neglect under President Bush and the Republican-led Congress, the Democratic majority is working to rebuild America's rail system - and work towards a cleaner energy future for all Americans."