States, Amtrak plead to Congress for rail funding

Posted on July 1, 2004

Amtrak and 29 states implored Congress this week to create a pilot program to help pay for the expansion of intercity rail lines.

Currently, very few federal funds are available for major intercity train corridors such as the San Francisco-Sacramento line in California and the Chicago-St. Louis line through Illinois.

Similar intercity highway projects can receive up to 80% federal funding, with a 20% local match.

Amtrak, which operates many of the rail lines in question, helped state representatives organize a protest and carve out a proposal for $2 billion to $3 billion over five years, which it says will have a huge impact.

Amtrak, meanwhile, sent a $1.8 billion budget request of its own to Congress for fiscal year 2005 as part of a five-year recovery program.

President Bush has proposed scaling back direct funding to Amtrak, which is getting $1.2 billion this fiscal year, to under $1 billion.

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