Alaska Railroad and Amtrak Funding Take Important Steps Forward

Alaska Railroad and Other Transit Funding

The Transportation Reauthorization Conference Committee has agreed on a surface transportation bill. The Conference Committee bill has passed by both Chambers of Congress and will be heading to the President to be signed, which is expected to happen soon.

TCU supported the language that maintains FTA formula funds for the state-owned Alaska Railroad in this bill. Specific provisions targeting a reduction in Alaska Railroad funding were not included in the final bill. Due to changes in the overall transit funding formulas, Alaska Railroad funding will decline slightly but not drastically from current levels.

Amtrak Funding

The House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have passed the 2013 Transportation-HUD spending bill that will fund Amtrak and a number of other transportation and housing programs.

TCU and the Machinists intensified lobbying efforts after it was learned that Arizona Republican Jeff Flake was expected to introduce two anti-Amtrak amendments. One amendment would have prevented Amtrak from using any of its funds for providing food and beverage services thus forcing Amtrak to eliminate thousands of dedicated on board service employees and support staff.

The second amendment would have reduced Amtrak’s capital apportions by $500 million. That money is vital—not only for capital, but for the potential to flex some of it over to Amtrak operations.

TCU told lawmakers that Flake’s amendments were part of a larger ideologically driven campaign to undermine Amtrak and hollow out its ability to provide national passenger rail service. TCU lobbied that Congress should dismiss these reckless proposals and instead provide Amtrak with the long-term resources and stability it needs to provide first-class passenger rail service.

Congressman Flake abandoned his amendments after it became evident he did not have the votes necessary to win.

The Transportation-HUD Bill will now head to Conference Committee before it can go to the President.

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