Happening Now

Transportation, Amtrak Budget Gains Steam in Senate

July 25, 2017

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing advanced an FY2018 transportation budget in a markup earlier today, providing $1.6 billion for Amtrak and $12.1 billion for transit.

Notably, today's committee action has established a bipartisan, bicameral consensus on the necessity of increasing investment in intercity rail that has been tantalizingly out of reach in the past few years. It's a feat that is all the more striking for its rejection of the Trump Administration’s calls to slash spending and eliminate long distance trains.

Yet there were clear differences in how the House and the Senate chose to prioritize different segments of the system.

House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) came out decisively in support of easing the maintenance backlog on the Northeast Corridor, targeting funds toward capital grant programs tailored towards the Gateway Project, which would address the Hudson River tunnel chokepoint between New Jersey and New York City.

Senate Appropriations Chair Susan Collins (R-ME), meanwhile, funded more broadly national programs—albeit with less of an emphasis on intercity rail. The Senate THUD Committee adhered more to the FAST Act funding structure, which includes funding for state-led rail projects and restoration projects (though at lower levels than authorized).

  • Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement: $92.5 million ($24.5 million more than fiscal year 2017, $67.5 million more than the President’s budget request, but $137.5 less than authorized by the FAST Act) to support implementation of positive train control, station improvements, and rail grade crossing projects.
  • Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Grants: $26 million ($149 million less than authorized and $424 million less than the House bill) to upgrade aging infrastructure, a “key concern on Amtrak’s network”.
  • Rail Restoration and Enhancement Grants: $5 million ($16 million less than authorized and $5 million more than the House bill) to connect more communities to better service on the national rail network.

It also restored $550 million for the popular Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants cut by the House, and funded New Starts at $2.133 billion—$380 million higher than House levels. This prorgram has funded many worthy projects, including intercity rail, transit, freight rail, and ports. That means state rail agencies will have to compete with other modes to secure funding for their train corridors.

The overall result in the Senate is more funding for mass transit broadly, with less guaranteed towards Amtrak—specifically for the NEC.

The full Senate Appropriations Committee will take up the bill on Thursday.

Appreciate NARP's work as voice of the passenger on Capitol Hill? Support our mission with a special gift!

FY2017 Appropriated Levels

FAST Act FY2018 Authorized Levels

White House FY2018 Budget

House THUD FY2018 Budget

Senate THUD FY208 Budget


Amtrak - National Network






Amtrak - NEC






Consolidated Rail Infrastructure & Safety Grants






Federal State Partnership For State Of Good Repair






Restoration & Enhancement Grants