July 12, 2023 - TRA Newswire -

CALL TO ACTION: A proposed budget from the Republican controlled U.S. House Appropriations Committee could mean an end to Amtrak intercity train service in Texas, as it calls for a 64% reduction in the railway's funding.  It would effectively force Amtrak “to radically reduce or suspend service on various routes across the nation,” in the words of Amtrak President Stephen Gardner. Other programs including one that helps local Short Line industrial railroads would be sliced by more than half.

The passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) has introduced a new era for America’s rail passengers and various rail programs, launching several important new passenger rail programs and providing guaranteed multi-year federal funding to upgrade and expand the national passenger rail network.

Now that we have seen the House Committee on Appropriation's draft FY24 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) legislation, that could all be in jeopardy.  This bill would cut Amtrak’s budget 64% from what was enacted last year and 76% below what Congress authorized in the Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act (IIJA), threatening an essential transportation service that tens of millions of Americans depend upon and killing the passenger rail renaissance launched by the IIJA before it has a chance to get started.

In addition, the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program — which has played a particularly significant role for short line railroads — is slated to be slashed more than 50% from current-year levels to $258.5 million.
We need YOU, America's passengers, to continue to speak up about the benefits of investment in Amtrak, passenger trains and rail programs that grow the economy.

*  Just when we need improved and expanded passenger rail service in Texas, the U.S. House wants to cut off service at the knees.

*  This budget proposal could stifle the Texas Department of Transportation, that recently applied for planning grants for three high-traffic corridors, endorsed support for the I-20 DFW to Meridian expansion of the current Amtrak Crescent service and has issued a support letter for expansion of the Heartland Flyer from Fort Worth to Kansas. 

Join the Rail Passengers Association and Texas Rail Advocates in asking Congress to reject the THUD FY24 budget & fully fund rail programs at the authorized levels established by the BIL!

Use this link to find your Congressman and please, please reach out and contact them: https://wrm.capitol.texas.gov/home

Chairwoman of House Appropriations is Congresswoman Kay Granger of Fort Worth. If you are in Kay's district, please call her Fort Worth office at  817-338-0909.             

Click here for the  press release featuring a statement from Rail Passengers President + CEO Jim Mathews and expanded funding tables.

Photo credit: Mel Evans