Denham Statement from Hearing “Amtrak’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget: The Starting Point for Reauthorization”

Apr 11, 2013 Issues: Transportation

WASHINGTON, DC — Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Chairman Jeff Denham (R-CA) delivered the following opening remarks at today’s Transportation and Infrastructure hearing on “Amtrak’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget: The Starting Point for Reauthorization.”

The hearing examined Amtrak’s Fiscal Year 2014 grant request: $373 million for operations and $2.27 billion for its capital program.  The Subcommittee also explored how Amtrak’s budget request relates to the rail service’s on-going reorganization and the upcoming reauthorization of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) – one the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s legislative priorities this year.

Chairman Denham and Subcommittee Members heard testimony from Joseph H. Boardman, President and CEO, Amtrak, and Joseph C. Szabo, Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration at the hearing.

More information, including testimony and additional background information, is available here

 

Chairman Jeff Denham (R-CA)

Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials

Hearing on Amtrak’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget: The Starting Point for Reauthorization

 

April 11, 2013

Opening Statement

(Remarks as Prepared)

 

“The starting point for this reauthorization is Amtrak and the Administration’s respective budget requests.  This is our starting point because the primary policy questions answered in this, or any other reauthorization, are how much federal funding do we allocate and what should that funding be used for?

“Chairman Shuster and I are committed to Rail Reauthorization this year and hopefully this hearing will continue this bipartisan effort.

“Today, we will hear from both Amtrak and the Administration regarding Amtrak’s fiscal needs.  As you may know, the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA) authorized funding levels for Amtrak over five years for operating grants and capital grants. 

“On the operating side, PRIIA authorized, Amtrak requested, and Congress has appropriated amounts higher than Amtrak’s actual needs.  In fact, since PRIIA was enacted, Amtrak received $2.6 billion in operating appropriations, but actually only had $2.1 billion in losses.  While Amtrak did use this money on important projects like purchasing a new set of long distance train sets, imagine if Amtrak could have leveraged this half billion dollars for its infrastructure needs on the Northeast Corridor.  I look forward to exploring this matter with our witnesses.

“With regard to capital grants, the PRIIA authorization levels were higher than what has been consistently appropriated.  In FY 2014, Amtrak is requesting $2.27 billion for its capital program, about $1.4 billion more than the FY 2013 amount ($904 million).  This additional funding includes the procurement of new rolling stock ($356 million), initiation projects related to the new Hudson River tunnels in New York ($167 million), and continued station compliance with the Americans with Disability Act.

“In addition to hearing about Amtrak’s fiscal needs, both entities will also address the reorganization of Amtrak into business lines.  Amtrak’s decision to split out Northeast Corridor, State-Supported Routes, and Long-Distance Routes will create more transparency and show stakeholders where federal funding is needed.

“There is growing agreement between Amtrak, the Administration, and others like the Brookings Institute that reorganization is a big first step toward running Amtrak more like a business, which should allow proper infrastructure development.  The current operating structure does not allow proper infrastructure development because the profits of the Northeast Corridor go to subsidize losses on other routes, especially the Long Distance Routes. 

“We must find a better way to do this and we are open to any ideas.”

 

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