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California Rail 2020 Conference

October 15, 2005

Report by Carl Morrison,

Pat Montague, Board of Directors, NARP Region 12, Building a Dynamic Rail Passenger Movement

Pat (far left in photo) had an excellent 3-page memo available which was titled:  Summary of Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act

This bill was to come up 10/17/05.  Quotes from that memo follow:


The Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) is a six year reauthorization bill (FY 2006-2011) -- the same time frame as the Amtrak Board's strategic plan.  The bill authorizes funding for Amtrak's capital and operating needs to maintain current operations, upgrade equipment, and return the Northeast Corridor (NEC) to a state of good repair.  Over the life of the bill, Amtrak's operating subsidy is reduced by 40% through  cost cutting, restructuring, and reform while capital funding is increased.  The bill creates an intercity passenger rail capital grant program for the States.

Funding Summary

6 Year Funding Totals Average Amtrak Operating Subsidy $3.3 billion $556 million Amtrak Capital Grants $4.9 billion $818 million State Grants $1.4 billion $340 million Existing Amtrak Debt $1.7 billion $287 million Total $11.4 billion $1.9 billion

Amtrak Reforms

The bill requires a financial accounting system for Amtrak Operations and a five year financial plan.

Restructuring of Amtrak's debt within one year.

Add the Amtrak President to the Amtrak Board, making a total of nine, with rail, transportation, or a business background.

Measuring of performance and service quality of intercity train operations including cost-recovery, on-time performance, ridership per train mile, on-board and station services, and the connectivity of routes.

Route and service decisions shall give consideration to cost recovery and on-time performance of existing routes, connections with other routes, transportation needs of communities not served by other public transportation.

States wishing to use operators other than Amtrak for the provision of state-supported services shall have access to Amtrak facilities for the purpose of operating that particular route.

Development of a capital spending plan by Amtrak to return the Northeast Corridor to a state of good repair by the end of 2011 at a 100 percent Federal share.

Evaluation of Long Distance Trains'  financial and on-time performance, and customer satisfaction of each train.  Establishment of performance improvement plans for 5 long distance routers (1/3 of the 15 intercity passenger trains) with the worst performance.  Consider restructuring the route, improving on-board services, changing amenities such as sleeper car service and food service, and changing the frequency of trains by 2008 with all long distance routes will undergo the same restructuring process.

A Competitive bid program will allow freight railroads to bid for long distance trains.  Employees will either be located to other positions within Amtrak or paid termination payments guaranteed under existing collective bargaining agreements.

If a train's on-time performance record falls below 80% for two consecutive quarters, the STB must investigate the cause and recommend how to fix the problems.  If the delays to passenger trains are the result of freight railroads not providing priority access to Amtrak, as required under law, the Board may take appropriate action to enforce priority access.

Grants will be made to states to pay for capital costs of facilities and equipment necessary to provide new and improved intercity passenger rail.  The federal match is 80 percent.

Patrick Montague can be reached at:

Official TRAC Website:

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