WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week, Rep. Emilia Sykes (OH-13) led a letter with Reps. Seth Moulton (MA-06), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Don Bacon (NE-02), and 74 additional House members to House and Senate leadership calling for any upcoming government funding package to include robust funding for Amtrak and its passenger rail services.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA, commonly referred to as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) authorizes multi-year funding for Amtrak’s major capital projects and state-of-good repair work along the Northeastern Corridor (NEC). The IIJA authorized funding was nearly doubled for the National Network, from $1.2 billion in Fiscal Year (FY)21 to $2.3 billion in FY22, and increased for the NEC from $600 million in FY21 to $1.57 billion in FY22.
Unfortunately, the House Appropriations Committee has proposed slashing Amtrak’s annual appropriation by 64% from FY23. This devastating cut to our national passenger rail service would undermine the IIJA’s affirmation that intercity rail is an essential part of American transportation.
“Underfunding Amtrak’s annual appropriations will undermine necessary state-of-good repair work, inhibit progress on other capital projects, and runs counter to the interests of millions of our constituents who rely on efficient and reliable rail service … Amtrak has and will continue to play a critical role in shaping the future of American transportation by spurring capital development, enabling regional connectivity, connecting workers to employers, and improving regional tax revenue. To that end, we encourage you to provide robust funding for Amtrak and its passenger rail services in the final Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations legislation,” wrote members.
“As the nation’s largest transportation labor federation, we are dismayed by this attempt to shrink Amtrak’s budget to the level it was a decade ago, leading to service cuts, significant layoffs, and the loss of thousands of jobs,” said Greg Regan, President of the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO. “In short, slashing Amtrak’s funding would be disastrous for America’s passenger rail system, passengers, and workers. We strongly support an increase in authorized funding for Amtrak and urge congressional appropriators to make the necessary investments to support the largest-ever expansion of our national passenger rail network as envisioned by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”
“The suppliers, bankers, businesses, and rail education community reliant on the Northeast Rail Corridor are disappointed in the significant and harmful reduction of funding for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Account and the elimination of funding altogether for the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program in the FY 2024 House T-HUD appropriations bill. The plans to drastically cut, or eliminate altogether, funding for these critical programs will impact not only the communities spanning from D.C. to Boston but the entire U.S. economy,” said Mike Friedberg, Executive Director of the Coalition for the Northeast Corridor (CNEC). “Slashing the NEC Amtrak funding from $1.3 billion to $99 million would interrupt service and cause an immense strain on the millions of commuters, leisure travelers, and businesspeople who rely on this corridor daily. Likewise, zeroing out of the Federal State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail program will negatively impact jobs in the Northeast related to rail construction, manufacturing, and the supply chain in addition to all non-rail-related businesses that rely on the NEC for employee transportation.”
Rep. Sykes has been a strong proponent for rail safety and the expansion of passenger rail during her time in Congress. New efforts by states, including Ohio’s proposal to connect major metropolitan areas like Northeast Ohio, Central Ohio, and Southwest Ohio by rail, strongly depend upon Congress appropriating robust funding for Amtrak. Rep. Sykes has also advocated for an Amtrak expansion route in Akron-Canton so residents in Ohio’s 13th Congressional District can be better connected to economic, educational, and healthcare opportunities across the state.
Read the full letter here.