Crawford Statement from Hearing Examining STB’s Role in the U.S. Passenger Rail System
Opening remarks, as prepared, of Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Ranking Member Rick Crawford (R-AR) from today’s hearing entitled, “Examining the Surface Transportation Board’s Role in Ensuring a Robust Passenger Rail System”:
Thank you, Chair Lipinski, for holding this hearing. And thanks to our witnesses for being here today.
I especially want to thank Chair Lipinski for his leadership of this subcommittee and his willingness to operate in a bipartisan manner. I appreciated his thoughtful approach on rail and pipeline safety issues and will miss working with him. I certainly wish him the best in his future endeavors.
Our hearing today is to review how the Surface Transportation Board works to support passenger railroads. The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated our nation’s passenger rail network.
Amtrak has significantly cut its routes, announced large cuts to its workforce, and has requested record amounts of taxpayer funding for this fiscal year. We must work to ensure that Amtrak services return in a way that offers the most benefit to riders and makes responsible use of the taxpayer money required to keep it running.
We must also balance the needs of passenger rail with the important needs of our Nation’s robust and resilient freight rail network. We cannot discuss important issues such as preference, on-time performance, and Amtrak schedules without fully considering the needs of the freight railroads and their rail network, which have continued to deliver essential goods throughout the country during this difficult year.
The Surface Transportation Board, Amtrak, and the FRA have addressed these issues recently, including through decisions and rulemakings that seek to improve and modernize on-time performance metrics and standards.
Thank you again to all of our witnesses for being here today.
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