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Rep. Grace Napolitano Hails Passage of Bipartisan Amtrak Bill

(Washington, DC) Today, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32) hailed the passage of H.R. 749, the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015, bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) for four years.

“Our long-term plan reauthorizes the intercity passenger rail grant program—rewarding states like California that invest in their own passenger rail systems—by providing additional grant funding,” said Napolitano, who spoke in support of the bill during consideration by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “We commend our bipartisan Committee leadership for drafting this critical legislation which will create jobs, strengthen our economy, and provide our constituents with better service.”

As a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials, Napolitano fought to include in the final bill key priorities for California’s Department of Transportation (CALTRANS), including the creation of a much-needed State Supported Routes Advisory Committee, which gives states a greater say in passenger rail decisions. Another priority that was included requires the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to provide states with detailed financial and ridership information so they can better plan and budget for their routes.

“These important changes will help our states have a stronger voice with FRA and Amtrak, giving them the necessary resources to make more accurate decisions about rail routes and improvements,” Napolitano added.

H.R. 749 was passed by the House of Representatives today with large bipartisan support by a vote of 316-101 and is expected to be passed by the Senate soon.

Background:

  • H.R. 749 authorizes $7.2 billion for passenger rail over the next four fiscal years (FY 2016 – FY 2019)

o   $5.8 billion for grants to Amtrak;

o   $1.2 billion for grants to States; and

o   $96 million for the Amtrak Inspector General.

  • California has 3 of the top 5 busiest intercity rail corridors in the U.S.:

o   Pacific Surfliner (From San Diego through Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo)

o   Capitol Corridor (From San Francisco through Sacramento to Auburn)

o   San Joaquin Corridors (From Bakersfield to Oakland and Sacramento)

  • H.R. 749 will help California by reauthorizing intercity passenger rail grant program at $300 million annually.
  • It restructures funding according to Amtrak’s major lines of business in order to provide greater transparency and accountability regarding the costs and revenues of its different business lines.
  • It also requires the Department of Transportation to conduct a nationwide study on the availability and use of disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs) in publicly funded intercity passenger rail projects.

 

Link: 1.usa.gov/1B2TL1T

 

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