Ranking Member Crawford Statement from Hearing on Plans to Expand Intercity Passenger Rail
Opening remarks, as prepared, of Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee Ranking Member Rick Crawford (R-AR) from today’s hearing entitled, “Leveraging IIJA: Plans for Expanding Intercity Passenger Rail”:
Thank you, Chair Payne, for holding this hearing, and thank you to our witnesses for participating.
Today’s hearing will examine how Amtrak should spend the record amounts of federal funding it received in the surface infrastructure bill signed into law last month. The law gives railroads $66 billion over the next five years, with most of this money going to Amtrak.
While Amtrak has announced plans to expand its routes, it is imperative that Amtrak first address the pressing issues with its existing system, such as much-needed maintenance and safety upgrades.
Amtrak must also work to recover from historic losses last year that led to it receiving billions of dollars in federal bailout money to keep it operating, despite record-low ridership. Amtrak must strive to use its taxpayer money responsibly and in a way that attracts riders and makes profit.
Moreover, it is important that Amtrak work to strengthen its relationships with the states, including through developing a transparent and fair cost allocation policy with the states for state-supported Amtrak routes.
Finally, any potential expansion of Amtrak’s system must include the full input of the freight railroads on capacity and track sharing issues. The ongoing supply chain crisis only further emphasizes the value of freight railroads in efficiently moving goods across the nation. The important work of the freight railroads cannot be obstructed.
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