Congress Passes Amtrak Reauthorization Bill

The U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives passed the Amtrak Reauthorization Bill, which authorizes the largest ever funding amount for state intercity passenger rail capital grants.  These grants will help restore passenger rail service from Chicago to the Quad Cities and extended service to Iowa City, Des Moines, and Omaha.  

The Amtrak provisions were included in HR 2095, the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 and the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act.  The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed HR 2095 by a voice vote on September 24th.  The U.S. Senate passed HR 2095 by a 74-24 vote on October 1st.  The bill now awaits signature by President Bush before becoming law.

"The Amtrak provisions passed by Congress authorize unprecedented federal support for new intercity passenger rail routes, which will help make the Chicago to Quad Cities route a reality," said Paul Rumler, Executive Director of the Quad Cities Passenger Rail Coalition.  "Because of continued community organizing and support from key federal and state legislators, the Quad Cities is well positioned to receive funding for passenger rail service as lawmakers focus on providing residents with affordable, efficient, and reliable transportation options.  The Quad Cities Congressional Delegation has provided important leadership and support to advance this regional priority."  

The final Amtrak authorization is a compromise version of similar legislation passed by the House and Senate earlier this year.  QC Rail worked with area lawmakers to strongly advocate for provisions that will benefit the Chicago to Quad Cities corridor.  

Key provisions:

  • Reauthorizes Amtrak and provides a total of $13.06 billion over five years to meet Amtrak's ongoing operating and capital needs.

  • Authorizes $1.9 billion to encourage the development of new and improved intercity passenger rail service through an 80/20 Federal/State matching capital grant program.  The bill authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to award $390 million each year on a competitive basis for projects based on economic performance, expected ridership, and other factors.  

  • The new State Capital Grant program will allow states to use their prior year passenger rail investments as credit toward their matching dollars. Illinois will be allowed to use $15 million per year for the next three years toward their matching requirement. This would allow the state access to almost $75 million in federal funding each year without a match.

  • Authorizes $325 million (an average of $65 million per year) out of the State Capital Grant program for "congestion grants" to Amtrak and the States for high-priority rail corridors to increase capacity along certain lines in order to reduce congestion and facilitate ridership growth.

  • The bill authorizes $1.5 billion ($300 million per year) for grants to States and/or Amtrak to finance the construction and equipment for 11 authorized high-speed rail corridors.

Click on the following links for more information about the Amtrak Bill:

Rep. Bruce Braley Named to Amtrak Reauthorization Conference Committee

Rep. Bruce Braley (IA) announced his appointment as a conference committee member for the 2008 Amtrak Reauthorization Bill.  The conference committee will develop a final version of the Amtrak Bill, which provides funding for passenger rail service.  Braley is an original co-sponsor of the Amtrak bill and helped shepherd the bill through the Transportation Committee.  The Quad City region's Congressional Delegation, including Rep. Phil Hare (IL), Rep. Bill Foster (IL), Sen. Dick Durbin (IL), Sen. Barack Obama (IL), Rep. Bruce Braley (IA), Rep. Dave Loebsack (IA), Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA), and Sen. Tom Harkin (IA) have all been supportive of passing the Amtrak Reauthorization Bill through the House and Senate.  

"Iím excited by the opportunity to continue working on the Amtrak bill and to support Iowa ís passenger rail needs,Ē Braley said.  ďWith gas prices now over four dollars per gallon, itís time to invest in alternative forms of transportation.  The Amtrak bill will help make passenger rail service between Dubuque and the Quad Cities to Chicago a reality."

© 2007 Quad Cities Passenger Rail Coalition