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Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen
Illinois State Legislative Board

House Passes Amtrak Reform Bill

 

PRESS RELEASE
House Passes Amtrak Reform Bill
For Immediate Release: March 04, 2015
Contact: Jim Billimoria, Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446
Washington, DC – The House of Representatives today approved a bipartisan bill that improves the Nation’s passenger rail system and reforms Amtrak by reducing costs, creating greater accountability and transparency, leveraging private sector resources, and accelerating rail project delivery.

The Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015, or PRRIA (H.R. 749), was introduced by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA); T&I Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR); Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Denham (R-CA); and Subcommittee Ranking Member Michael Capuano (D-MA).
“PRRIA brings significant and needed reforms to Amtrak.  This bill will result in cutting waste, strengthening our infrastructure, and providing better, more cost-effective passenger rail service for our Nation’s transportation system,” Shuster said.
“In every region of the country, passenger rail investments boost local economies and create thousands of family-wage construction, engineering, and manufacturing jobs.  This bill isn’t perfect, but it was a bipartisan effort that ultimately provides critical investments and system wide improvements to increase capacity and make our railways safer.  I’m glad that we were able to pass this legislation in a bipartisan way,” said DeFazio.
“The Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act will vastly improve commuter and passenger rail systems across the country, helping save American families time and money in transportation costs.  It represents a step forward in making Amtrak more efficient and accountable.  The bill’s widespread bipartisan support demonstrates the practicality of these reforms,” Denham said.
“This bipartisan legislation will improve passenger rail service which is an important component of an effective transportation network.  Increasing investment in rail service not only leads to a better customer experience, it also creates economic benefits and employment opportunities,” Capuanosaid.
Passenger rail presents one of the best transportation alternatives for relieving congestion on some of the Nation’s most crowded highways and in our busy airspace.  However, important reforms are necessary to improve Amtrak – the country’s intercity passenger rail provider – and our passenger rail transportation system.  PRRIA includes the following provisions:
Reforms Amtrak to Increase Transparency, Reduce Costs, and Operate More Like a Business
  • Authorizes Amtrak at recently appropriated funding levels
  • Eliminates Amtrak’s losses in food and beverage service
  • Mandates Amtrak carry out a business case analysis for all major procurements
  • Eliminates Amtrak’s opaque accounting and requires transparent bookkeeping
Leverages Resources and Encourages Non-Federal Participation
  • Creates station development opportunities for the private sector
  • Opens new revenue streams through right-of-way development
  • Unlocks an underutilized federal railroad loan program
  • Assists with advancing large infrastructure projects through partnerships with states
Streamlines Environmental Reviews and Accelerates Project Delivery
  • Sets deadlines to reasonably limit review times
  • Requires reviews to occur concurrently rather than consecutively
  • Improves coordination among federal, state, and local agencies involved in the reviews
Targets Investments Where There is the Greatest Potential for Success
  • Keeps Northeast Corridor profits on the Northeast Corridor, while maintaining long-distance and state-supported passenger rail service
  • Improves management of the Northeast Corridor
  • Incentivizes increased Northeast Corridor investments
Empowers States to Have a Greater Role in Managing Routes
  • Ensures states are equal partners, giving them a greater say in decision making to ensure passengers get the best service
  • Strengthens transparency to give states and Congress greater insight into Amtrak’s accounting to identify areas for improvement
  • Requires Amtrak to evaluate long-distance routes, improve services, and lower costs
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