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Senate Committee Rejects Radical House Cuts to Trains

July 21, 2023

The Senate Appropriations Committee advanced its Fiscal Year 2024 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) bill by a unanimous vote yesterday. Thankfully, the Senate’s bipartisan budget proposal rejected the radical cuts to rail and transit included in the House’s T-HUD proposal, which advanced out of the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday along a party-line vote earlier this week.

“On behalf of America’s passengers, we want to thank Chair Murray, Vice Chair Collins, Chair Schatz, Ranking Member Hyde-Smith, and the entire Committee for their bipartisan support of these essential transportation connections,” said Jim Mathews, President & CEO of the Rail Passengers Association. “This bill does more than keep the trains running; it allows States and Amtrak to advance key upgrades to existing infrastructure, bring service to new cities and towns, and move forward with the purchase of new traincars and locomotives for corridors across the U.S.”

The Senate’s FY24 T-HUD bill provides $2.45 billion for Amtrak (a slight increase over FY23 funding levels), including:

  • $1.3 billion for the National Network (a 10% increase over last year); and
  • $1.1 billion for the Northeast Corridor (a 9 percent decrease over last year).

It also provides $100 million for the Federal – State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail and $573 million for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program, which includes a set-aside to the Vermont Agency of Transportation for the Bellows Falls Amtrak Station Platform Reconstruction. Senate Appropriators provided $16.9 billion for the for the Federal Transit Administration, including $2.45 billion for the Capital investment Program, which helps fund improvements and expansion for heavy rail, commuter rail, light rail, streetcars, and bus rapid transit systems.

In a statement following the vote, Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner thanked the committee leadership for supporting passenger rail, saying the Senate funding levels would maintain essential railroad functions and make key investments for the future.

That stands in stark contrast to the House T-HUD bill, which would lead to service reductions across the entire network, the firing or furloughing of 10,000 Amtrak workers, and the cancellation or suspension of dozens of critical passenger rail infrastructure upgrades.

FY23 Enacted FY24 Authorized FY24 House THUD FY24 Senate THUD
Amtrak - NEC $1,260 $1,200 $99.2 $1,141.4
Amtrak - Nat'l Network $1,193 $2,450 $776.4 $1,313.0
FRA Operations $251 $263 $273.5 $267.8
Fed-State Partnership for IPR/SOGR $100 $1,500 $0.0 $100.0
CRISI Grants $535 $1,000 $258.5 $572.9
RR Crossing Elimination Grants $0 $500 $0.0 $0.0
Restoration & Enhancement Grants $0 $50 $0.0 $0.0
Total $3,339 $6,963 $1,407.6 $3,395.1

Next Steps

House and Senate leadership have stated that they won’t be able to advance the T-HUD bills until after the August recess, which means a floor vote wouldn’t take place until mid-September at the earliest.

Rail Passengers Association will take full advantage of the coming break in legislative action to support the Senate proposal. We will continue to work with our volunteer leadership and coalition partners to ensure that passengers, Amtrak-served communities, and elected officials understand the stark choice that exists between the House and Senate proposals.

Stay tuned!