U.K.-California Global Warming Pact Can Be Impetus For More Passenger Rail

Release #06-13—August 1, 2006

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Washington, D.C.—The National Association of Railroad Passengers applauds the Global Warming Partnership formed today between the United Kingdom and the State of California. We urge that increased passenger rail investment be used to help reduce greenhouse gasses and America’s dependence on foreign oil. In particular, we applaud the report in today’s Financial Times that California and the UK “will collaborate on reducing emissions from road transport.” However, we urge that this include passenger rail, not just “sharing knowledge gained from California’s project to encourage use of hydrogen-fuelled cars.”

California’s passenger rail program is the nation’s biggest, but huge needs remain. James Mills, Former President Pro Tem of the California Senate, told NARP, “The Governor would make his words meaningful by directing more of the state’s transportation funds into intercity rail and transit projects.”

Expanding passenger rail reduces greenhouse gasses. Oak Ridge National Laboratory reports that, in 2003, Amtrak consumed 18% less energy per passenger-mile than airlines, and 17% less than automobiles. In other words, Amtrak was 18% more energy efficient than planes, 17% than autos. A solid rail investment program could give rail an even greater energy efficiency edge.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said “long term, (global warming is) the single biggest issue we face.”

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today said, “We see that there is not great leadership from the federal government when it comes to protecting the environment. We know there is global warming, so we should stop it.” Schwarzenegger reportedly wants California to cut its emissions to 2000 levels by 2010.

Washington’s hostility towards passenger rail is well known. More recent attempts to strangle Amtrak, however, have shifted from obvious to stealth; that is, from dramatic funding cuts and legislated lists of routes to drop, to onerous and unworkable language and fiscal requirements in yearly appropriations bills.

About NARP

NARP is the only national organization speaking for the users of passenger trains and rail transit. We have worked since 1967 to expand the quality and quantity of passenger rail in the U.S. Our mission is to work towards a modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want. Our work is supported by approximately 20,000 individual members.