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Rail Passengers Call for More Rail Funding in Senate Bill

June 15, 2021

A letter written by Rail Passengers' President Jim Mathews to the Senate Commerce Committee asking for increased passenger rail funding in the rail title.

June 15, 2021

The Honorable Maria Cantwell


Committee on Commerce, Science, and


United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Roger Wicker

Ranking Member

Committee on Commerce, Science,

and Transportation

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chair Cantwell and Ranking Member Wicker:

Rail Passengers Association is writing is asking the Senate Commerce Committee to bring passenger rail grant programs S. 2016 in line with the funding levels provided by the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee in H.R. 3684.

An America connected by passenger rail is not only good for passengers but good for America’s cities and towns, where rail is a proven economic engine in the communities it serves. Rail Passengers’ modeling suggests that Amtrak’s interconnected services in the Northeast Corridor, the long-distance National Network and the dozens of State-supported Amtrak routes together return between $7 billion and $8 billion each year to our Nation’s GDP – four times what we invest annually in the service. If the U.S. rail system were properly capitalized, these benefits would grow exponentially. Unfortunately, Rail Passengers believe S. 2016 does go far enough.

The National Network provides economic opportunities to less affluent and less well-educated communities, many of which fall below the national median income. The Crescent serves 17 communities off Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, 15 of which have incomes below the national median income. Taxpayers support Amtrak’s National Network in part because we want these towns to thrive and their citizens to have access to jobs and mobility. We all need the economy to grow and be strong.

Even undercapitalized, Amtrak is enhancing energy efficiency with improved operating practices and higher load factors. The railroad currently removes 8 million cars from our overcrowded highways and eliminates the need for 50,000 airplanes. Proper funding would let the U.S. modernize its transportation network with new energy-efficient technologies, reducing harmful emissions and increasing our energy security.

Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Jim Mathews | President & CEO | Rail Passengers Association