Amtrak requests $1.8 billion from Congress

Posted on February 12, 2004

Amtrak President David Gunn asked Congress this week for $1.8 billion in aid for fiscal year 2005, nearly twice the amount proposed by the Bush Administration.

Gunn also said that the president's budget would force the national passenger rail system to shut down at a time when ridership is increasing.

President Bush's budget proposed $900 million for Amtrak, and the White House called for the rail system to make major reforms by pushing more costs onto states in which it operates. The administration said it would request up to $1.4 billion for Amtrak in the future if the rail system makes those changes.

"There should be no surprises,” said Gunn in a statement. "We go through this dance that we're going through now every year."

Gunn said the Bush proposal would cover only operating costs and debt payments and not the $800 million needed for capital costs such as upgrading wood ties to concrete, replacing bridges and overhauling rail cars. He also defended the passenger rail system as beginning to show improvements in financial performance and ridership, which reached a record 24 million last year.

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