A coalition of Northeast business groups recommended Tuesday that states partner with the federal government to govern Amtrak's Northeast Corridor.
This action would change the railway's role to that of contract operator/manager, while continuing to provide intercity rail service in the region.
"A change in ownership won't change the underlying funding needs for the corridor or the process to obtain that funding — it just sidesteps the issue," said Amtrak spokesperson Cliff Black.
The recommendation is part of a study commissioned by the leaders of the coalition and the Newark Regional Business Partnership. The study was conducted by Rutgers University.
The report notes that 30 years of historic underfunding has allowed Amtrak to fall into a state of disrepair.
It recommends that those portions of the Northeast Corridor designated to Amtrak in 1976 be placed in public hands through a transfer to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
A new public benefit corporation, governed by a board representing equally the federal government and the Northeast states, would exercise policy control over the rail line.
Amtrak would be held accountable to the governing board through a renewable contract for maintaining the rail line and operating the corridor's intercity service between Washington, New York and Boston.
"Amtrak has been working with the states individually and collectively to make sure that funding needs are met, including the recently-signed agreement with New Jersey for multi-year capital needs," Amtrak's Black said.
"In the long-term, Amtrak recognizes that we need to work together with the states and federal government to build capacity and ensure a state of good repair," Black said. "That's largely the direction that Congress is taking in legislation to support funding of the corridor."