Facebook Page
Amtrak Archives 2003

Friends of Amtrak

Archived News 2003


FRIENDS OF AMTRAK HOME PAGE--For the latest and most recent news on Amtrak and legislation affecting Amtrak please go to the Friends of Amtrak home page. CLICK HERE.

CONGRESS TO GIVE AMTRAK $1.225 BILLION - November 13, 2003

House-Senate conferees have negotiated a compromise funding measure that would give Amtrak $1.225 billion for the current fiscal year 2004. This is far more than the $900 million offered by the Bush administration and subsequent House authorization but less than the Senate approved bill of $1.35 billion. Amtrak had originally asked for $1.8 billion.

According to an Associated Press report, "The final compromise between the two Republican-run chambers underlined the clout wielded by Amtrak supporters."

We did well!

Amtrak CEO David Gunn responded to the final bill by saying that "This number will allow us to continue to operate the national system. However, we will have to assess the impact of this funding level on our current budget over the next month or so."

This means that Amtrak will likely have to rework its plans for repairing and improving tracks, bridges, tunnels, power lines and other capital projects along the aging Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston that Gunn says are of pressing concern.

The new package continues to defer repayment of a $100 million government loan made in 2002.

The bill now goes back to both chambers for almost certain approval and then on to the President's desk for his signature.


The US Senate has approved $1.34 billion for Amtrak for the fiscal year 2004 which began October 1. The funding was including in a larger bill funding transportation and Treasury Dept. measures. Since the House of Representatives has only provided for $900 million, the bill must now go to a joint House and Senate conference committee for final consideration. Amtrak says that the House bill would amount to a shut down budget for the railroad. Amtrak CEO David Gunn said that the Senate bill would allow us to operate the existing system and hopefully not worsen the amount of deferred maintenance. Gunn had requested $1.8 billion to allow the railroad to make long overdue repairs and maintenance to track, cars and other equipment. The Senate bill represents a sharp departure from the White House's efforts to dismantle the nation's intercity passenger railroad system.


NARP LEGISLATIVE UPDATE - September 11, 2003 - Another Resounding Pro-Train Vote

On Tuesday evening, before final passage of the FY 2004 transportation/treasury appropriations bill, the House rejected 130-282 the Sessions (R.-Tex.) amendment to prohibit use of federal funds on routes with an FY 2001 operating ratio over 2.0. (Operating ratio is costs divided by revenues, so an operating ratio over 2.0 means a revenue-to-cost ratio of under 50%.) The amendment would have applied to two short-distance routes (Chicago-St. Louis and Chicago-Milwaukee) as well as all but six long-distance routes.

The amendment used data in the final Amtrak Reform Council report (dated February 7, 2002), that is, old data from fiscal 2001, which were fully allocated costs. This means they included overhead costs (like a portion of the CEO's salary), many of which would not disappear with a given route but simply be shifted to surviving routes. In any event, the result would have been an unsustainable patchwork "network."


TIME TO FIGHT THE AMBUSH - August 27, 2003

With federal budget deficits skyrocketing ($480 billion for next year) the Bush administration's assault on Amtrak becomes even more insidious with a new proposal that would break up Amtrak, privatize much of the system and scale back funds to zero for long distance routes within six years.

With state governments desperate, struggling with the worst financial crisis since World War II, Team Bush proposes shifting much of the responsibility for Amtrak to the states, shirking its responsibility for a national passenger rail system. These very same states that are now withdrawing health care for the poor and mentally ill, dismissing state troopers, closing parks and schools, dropping bus routes, eliminating college scholarships and slashing a host of other services that have long been taken for granted, would be required, over time, to provide at least fifty percent of the capital investments needed to keep the trains running. As Angela Monson, President of the National Conference of State Legislatures put it, "state governments are under siege." And yet the Bush mantra is for yet another "restructuring" of Amtrak that would pass on much of the responsibility and management to these very same states which are facing their worst budget shortfalls in decades. Are we making any sense here?

Furthermore, the Bush plan, a recipe for disaster, would have states contract with "third party operators" to provide corridor AND long distance rail service throughout these United States.Amtrak would be re-created as a for profit corporation which would be allowed to contract to run trains.A separate company would be formed for maintenance and capital projects in the Northeast corridor. Echoes of the failed British rail privatisation plan.

In other words, Amtrak and national intercity passenger rail service would be dismantled. It's time to let President Bush know that such folly is completely unacceptable to the American people!


Four Republican Senators proposed a new plan for Amtrak that would infuse $48 million into badly needed capital rail projects and $12 billion over six years to operate passenger systems. The capital funding would come in the form of an 80/20 federal/state match, much like the grant systems that now exist for highways. In so doing the four GOP Senators, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, Conrad Burns of Montana, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Trent Lott of Mississippi, rebuked President Bush and the leaders of their party in the House.

The plan by the four members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee would give Amtrak the $2 billion in annual
operating subsidies it has requested. The plan also calls for issuing $48 billion in bonds to raise money for repairs and track construction.

"The reason that Amtrak is always coming up short and running to the Congress to say, 'We need more money,' is because we have starved them
to death," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the bill's author. "Amtrak has been a stepchild in the national transportation system."

The four Republican Senators represent states outside Amtrak's Northeast corridor, between Boston and Washington. They have adopted the motto "National or Nothing" to highlight their view that Amtrak must devote more money to improve and expand service throughout the nation.
Under their bill, for every dollar in capital funds spent in the Northeast, four dollars would be spent elsewhere.

Good for them!


In each of the past three months, Amtrak has set 32-year records for the number of riders it carried. "Slowly but surely, we are making improvements, and we are beginning to see results," Amtrak President David L. Gunn said in a statement. "With public support to bring our infrastructure, trains and stations to a state of good repair, Amtrak will continue to build on this success."

The Pennsylvanian, for example, a train that runs between New York and Pittsburgh, increased ridership by 98 percent after discarding its mail-carrying and freight business. Now the train operates on a faster schedule, carrying only passengers. Amtrak improved Los Angeles-to-San Diego ridership 32 percent in the past year by agreeing with Metrolink, the Southern California commuter-rail agency, to honor each other's passenger tickets.

Nevertheless, President Bush is urging Congress to permanently restructure Amtrak under proposals scheduled for action in the first or second week of September.

WHICH IS SAFER - CAR OR TRAIN ? The death rate per 100 million passenger miles is 23 times greater for car travel than train travel nationally; injury rates are 63 times higher.


Amtrak's Mid-Atlantic Division Safety Council has a new web site dedicated to the safety of its employees and guests:



AMTRAK SLEEPING CAR PLANS AVAILABLE ON FRIENDS OF AMTRAK WEBSITE, August 24, 2000. Friends of Amtrak now has a page that shows in JPG format the layout of Amtrak's sleeping cars. Amtravelers take note! I don't believe that I've seen such a plan anywhere on the net.


The House Appropriations Committee on July 24 voted to provide Amtrak with $900 million for the coming fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. This is more than $300 million above what the House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee proposed. The $900 million  voted for Amtrak by the House Appropriations Committee July 24 is still half of what Amtrak says it needs to preserve its national intercity rail passenger network. The Senate Appropriations Committee still must act on an Amtrak funding bill and that the entire House of Representatives still has the ability to increase Amtrak funding well beyond what the House Appropriations Committee voted.


WASHINGTON - Amtrak Chairman John Robert Smith and President David L. Gunn today issued the following statement:

The Administration's proposal of a $900 million appropriation for FY 2004 begins the process of determining Amtrak's funding level for the next fiscal year.  While this debate will soon be joined, the immediate priority of Amtrak's Board and management is to resolve the FY 2003 funding level so that we may then have a debate on the FY 2004 level.

For FY 2003, Amtrak has requested a federal grant of $1.2 billion to meet its basic needs and operate the nation's passenger rail system safely and reliably.  While we are encouraged by the Senate's recent approval of this amount and look forward to a final appropriations bill that maintains this funding level, we have made clear to all parties involved in this decision what will happen if a lesser amount is approved. There can be no meaningful discussion of reform or the 2004 budget until the FY 2003 budget has been approved.

Amtrak has undertaken significant reforms to improve its cost-efficiency in the past year, including a reorganization eliminating more than 500 positions, adjustments to routes and schedules and the withdrawal from a money-losing express business.  These reforms show clearly that Amtrak's administration is not conducting business as usual, and they will continue.

This year, Congress is scheduled to take up Amtrak's reauthorization.  We agree with the Administration, as it has said today, that the Amtrak reauthorization process should begin as soon as possible.  We urgently want to work with Congress and the states to build on the foundation of our passenger rail system to further improve and reform its service and cost recovery and make Amtrak a full partner in the nation's intermodal transportation system.

We further agree with the remarks made by DOT Deputy Secretary Jackson today that passenger rail is an important component of our nation's transportation infrastructure, and as such we believe long-distance trains play a significant role.  Until Congress and other policymakers determine otherwise, as mandated by law, we will continue to operate this system as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

Source: Amtrak


The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury and Independent Agencies on July 11 approved a FY 2004 Transportation & Treasury spending bill with just $580 million for Amtrak, $320 million below President Bush's request and $1.22 billion below Amtrak's request, while exceeding the President's highway and aviation requests. Amtrak's reaction was fast and decisive..."Whether you live in Albany or New York City or Washington, you would no longer have Amtrak service," said Cliff Black, an Amtrak spokesman. "This is a shutdown scenario," continued Black.

A pro-Amtrak amendment is possible at the full-committee markup, which could come as early as next Tuesday. Please tell your representative that you are appalled by today's action and that Amtrak needs $1.8 billion (or $1.7 billion with the $100 million loan forgiven for another year).

This link should take to you to the list of full committee members <>, but even if your representative is not on the committee, please contact him or her and urge hard work on behalf of the Amtrak appropriation.Telephone (202/224-3121) or fax are the best ways to contact your legislators' offices. E-mails are less effective. In any event, please include your regular postal address, since most members pay little attention to comments from people who do not live in their districts. Tell them that you are outraged with the appropriations subcommittee's recommendations for Amtrak.


1. C. W. Bill Young , FL, Chairman
2. Ralph Regula , OH
3. Jerry Lewis , CA
4. Harold Rogers , KY
5. Frank R. Wolf , VA
6. Jim Kolbe , AZ
7. James T. Walsh , NY
8. Charles H. Taylor , NC
9. David L. Hobson , OH
10. Ernest J. Istook Jr., OK
11. Henry Bonilla , TX
12. Joe Knollenberg , MI
13. Jack Kingston , GA
14. Rodney P. Frelinghuysen , NJ
15. Roger F. Wicker , MS
16. George R. Nethercutt Jr., WA
17. Randy ``Duke'' Cunningham , CA
18. Todd Tiahrt , KS
19. Zach Wamp , TN
20. Tom Latham , IA
21. Anne M. Northup , KY
22. Robert B. Aderholt , AL
23. Jo Ann Emerson , MO
24. Kay Granger , TX
25. John E. Peterson , PA
26. Virgil H. Goode Jr., VA
27. John T. Doolittle , CA
28. Ray LaHood , IL
29. John E. Sweeney , NY
30. David Vitter , LA
31. Don Sherwood , PA
32. Dave Weldon , FL
33. Michael K. Simpson , ID
34. John Abney Culberson , TX
35. Mark Steven Kirk , IL
36. Ander Crenshaw , FL
1. David R. Obey , WI
2. John P. Murtha , PA
3. Norman D. Dicks , WA
4. Martin Olav Sabo , MN
5. Steny H. Hoyer , MD
6. Alan B. Mollohan , WV
7. Marcy Kaptur , OH
8. Peter J. Visclosky , IN
9. Nita M. Lowey , NY
10. JosČ E. Serrano , NY
11. Rosa L. DeLauro , CT
12. James P. Moran , VA
13. John W. Olver , MA
14. Ed Pastor , AZ
15. David E. Price , NC
16. Chet Edwards , TX
17. Robert E. (Bud) Cramer Jr., AL
18. Patrick J. Kennedy , RI
19. James E. Clyburn , SC
20. Maurice D. Hinchey , NY
21. Lucille Roybal-Allard , CA
22. Sam Farr , CA
23. Jesse L. Jackson Jr., IL
24. Carolyn C. Kilpatrick , MI
25. Allen Boyd , FL
26. Chaka Fattah , PA
27. Steven R. Rothman , NJ
28. Sanford D. Bishop Jr., GA
29. Marion Berry , AR

NEW AMTRAK SCHEDULES OFFER SERVICE AND FARE IMPROVEMENTS - April 27, 2003 - Changes Effective Monday, April 28, 2003 

WASHINGTON - Amtrak's new timetables go into effect Monday, April 28, with many adjusted departure and arrival times and more frequent service on some routes to better serve passengers.   Additionally, introductory promotional fares and some fare reductions join the improved trip times and increased frequencies on many services to make taking the train more flexible, convenient and attractive for passengers.

The new timetables are available at all major stations and schedule information may also be found at Highlights of the schedule changes:


Acela Express

Amtrak's premium Acela Express train fares between Boston and New York City will be significantly reduced beginning April 28.  The top Business class fare is now capped at $99, one- way, with non-peak one-way fares as low as $85, down from $127 and $102, respectively.  First class step-up charges and fares for intermediate stops are also lowered.

Springfield Line

The new timetable increases weekday roundtrips from five to eight on the Springfield Line between New Haven, Conn. and Springfield, Mass and reduces fares from 20 to 65 percent. Monthly passes between Springfield and New Haven, for example, decrease from $284 to $171. Similar savings between intermediate cities have also be implemented.    

The Federal

The Federal will provide new overnight service between Boston and Washington via New York City, replacing the Twilight Shoreliner.  The new train will feature First class, Business class and coach accommodations and offer more convenient departure (10:00 p.m.) and arrival times (7:30 a.m. in Washington and 8:15 a.m. in Boston).  Connecting train service to and from Richmond and Newport News, Va. is also provided. A special 30 percent off introductory fare is in effect until June 30.


Long Distance Trains

The most significant changes to the schedule of the long-distance trains are a number of more convenient arrival and departure times, and shorter layovers at Chicago, which serves as a hub for passengers connecting to train services to the east, west and south.

Lake Shore Limited

The westbound Lake Shore Limited, from New York City and Boston to Chicago via Albany and Cleveland, will depart New York and Boston approximately two hours later (at 2:50 p.m. and 11:50 a.m., respectively), providing a more convenient 9:00 a.m. arrival in Chicago instead of 7:00 a.m. and reducing the waiting time for passengers connecting to trains to the West Coast.  The eastbound Lake Shore Limited will depart Chicago 45 minutes earlier, at 7:00 p.m., and will arrive in New York at 1:50 p.m. instead of 3:20 p.m.

Capitol Limited

The eastbound train of this popular Chicago-Washington service will depart at 5:35 p.m. (instead of the current 7:00 p.m. departure) and arrive in Washington at 12:20 p.m. (instead of the current 1:55 p.m.).  This earlier departure results in earlier and more convenient arrival times at Toledo (10:45 p.m.) and Cleveland (12:51 a.m.).  The Westbound Capitol Limited will leave Washington at 5:25 p.m. instead of the present 3:10 p.m., with Chicago arrival at 10:59 a.m. instead of 8:30 a.m., providing passengers with a more leisurely on-board breakfast and a shorter layover time to trains to the West.

Faster Schedules

As Amtrak continues to restructure its mail and express service (removing freight express cars), several trains benefit from improved running times in at least one direction of operation.  These trains are:

The Cardinal

The westbound Cardinal, will depart Washington two hours later, at 12:55 p.m., on its route to Chicago via Charlottesville, Va., Huntington, W.Va., Cincinnati and Indianapolis.  This permits more convenient connections from points north of Washington along the Northeast Corridor, such as Charlottesville (3:33 p.m.),  and Charleston, WV (9:48 p.m.).

Although the Chicago-Indianapolis-Louisville Kentucky Cardinal will be withdrawn from service July 6, 2003, daily Indianapolis-Chicago service will be retained.

Southwest Chief

The eastbound Los Angeles-Chicago train operates via Albuquerque and Kansas City, Mo.  The new schedule restores the connection from the eastbound Southwest Chief at Kansas City (arriving at 7:14 a.m.) to the eastbound Ann Rutledge service departing Kansas City at 7:55 a.m. and arriving in St. Louis at 1:35 p.m.

California Zephyr

This historic train crosses the Rocky Mountains on one of the most scenic routes in the U.S. with improved trip times: 45 minutes faster eastbound from Emeryville, Calif. to Chicago and one hour faster for the westbound trip.

Empire Builder

The big train serving the Big Sky country and Glacier National Park will run thirty-five minutes faster, Seattle to Chicago.

Texas Eagle

Linking Chicago with St. Louis, Little Rock, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and points in between, the Texas Eagle will operate twenty-five minutes faster, San Antonio to Chicago.


Service on the Capitol Corridor trains between Oakland and Sacramento will increase from 11 round trips to 12 round trips on weekdays.  This increase in service occurs as the popular route continues to post increases in ridership (a 7 percent growth in March, against March, 2002).

Other Recent Schedule Improvements

The service improvements starting April 28 follow enhancements previously over the past six months. In January 2003, weekday Acela Express service to and from Boston was increased from nine round trips to ten round trips. Other changes have included restoration of The Pennsylvanian as a New York-Pittsburgh train, providing faster service to both Philadelphia and New York, a change to the schedule of the Chicago-New York Three Rivers to provide a second, faster daytime departure from Pittsburgh to New York, a new 7:00 a.m. weekday Keystone express train from Philadelphia to Harrisburg, and a new 8:50 a.m. weekday Keystone departure from Harrisburg to Philadelphia, eliminating a gap in departures from Harrisburg. Additionally, in late 2002, new Hiawatha frequencies were added between Chicago and Milwaukee, raising the total round-trips on the route from six to seven. 

AMTRAK TO CUT ACELA EXPRESS FARES - April 27, 2003.- Business class tickets $99 or less between Boston and New York

WASHINGTON - Amtrak will sharply reduce Acela Express fares between Boston and New York beginning Monday, April 28, capping business class fares at $99 and cutting the fee to "step up" to first class to $50 or less.  Fares will be even lower for off-peak departures and for travel to intermediate destinations such as New Haven or Providence. 

Under a simplified fare structure announced today, passengers traveling in Acela Express business class between Boston and New York will pay no more than $99 at any time-a 22 percent rollback from the current peak fare of $127.  Fares for non-peak departures will range from $85 to $92, down from the current fares of $102 to $119.

Amtrak will also reduce first class fares, enabling New England travelers to "step up" to first class for $50 or less, depending on city-pairs.  First class fares between Boston and New York will be $149 or less, down from the current fares ranging from $170 to $195.

These lower fares, which do not require advance purchase, will be available indefinitely beginning April 28.


New overnight Federal train introduced with special low fares

WASHINGTON - Beginning April 28, Amtrak will connect the Nation's Capital and the "Birthplace of the Revolution" with a new overnight train, the Federal, featuring three classes of service, enhanced onboard amenities and convenient departure and arrival times. 

The Federal will depart Washington at 10:00 p.m. nightly, arriving in Boston at 8:15 a.m. the following day.  This improved schedule provides a convenient after-dinner departure and an arrival time that is perfect for early morning meetings.  It's also an excellent option for college students traveling to or from campus.

"Those who recall the days of the Federal, operated by the New Haven and Pennsylvania Railroads, will welcome the return of the train on its former schedule," said Amtrak President David Gunn.  "Today's version will offer Washington-Boston overnight travelers a much improved schedule from the current Twilight Shoreliner, plus service options that should make it a popular train." 

On board, passengers will find three classes of service-more than any other train operating on the Northeast Corridor. 

First class passengers may board the train as early as 9:00 p.m.  Once aboard, they will enjoy private bedrooms featuring two comfortable beds, a fold-down table, and in-room lavatory facilities.  Shower facilities are also available.  Shortly before arrival, complimentary breakfast will be served-either in the café car, or via room service at the passenger's option.  Deluxe sleeping accommodations are available, offering even more space and a private shower.

Business class aboard the Federal will offer 2-by-1 seating configurations with extra legroom, pillows, blankets, complimentary non-alcoholic beverages, and 120-volt electrical outlets, making it the perfect choice for discerning travelers who may not require a private bedroom. 

In addition, First and Business class passengers boarding at Washington Union Station will have access to ClubAcela, Amtrak's amenity-filled station lounges, offering complimentary beverages, local telephone calls, and Internet access. 

Coach service will provide the many comforts and conveniences of rail travel at a reasonable price, including Quiet Car service.  The train's café car will serve an expanded menu of meals and snacks, as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.  RailFone service is available in each car.

Special Introductory Offer

Now through June 30, passengers can ride the Federal for 30 percent off regular rail fares.  That means coach fares as low as $56.75 from Washington to Boston, and even lower to intermediate destinations such as Philadelphia and New York.  (Passengers may apply their discount to the rail portion of First and Business class fares with payment of an accommodation charge.)  Up to two children, ages 2-15, may accompany each adult at 50 percent off the discounted price.  Blackouts and other restrictions may apply.  To take advantage of this offer, passengers must mention discount code H327 when making reservations at, or by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL or their travel agent. 


Commuters to enjoy big savings on monthly passes

WASHINGTON &endash; Amtrak announced significant fare reductions and the addition of five new trains on the Springfield Line, the route between Springfield, Mass. and New Haven, Conn.

Starting Monday, April 28, Amtrak will offer a total of 16 weekday trains, eight in each direction - up from 11 trains on the previous schedule.  This new schedule will provide Connecticut Valley residents with more frequent service and fewer gaps between departures. 

"We're proud to announce that prices are coming down, and service is going up," said Barbara Richardson, Amtrak's Vice President of Marketing and Sales.  "We hope to generate new ridership while providing more travel options for our current customers."

Amtrak will introduce a new 7:15 a.m. southbound departure from Springfield, which, with its 8:35 a.m. arrival time in New Haven, will be a perfect choice for commuters.  Southbound passengers will also enjoy more departures in the late afternoon and evening hours. 

On weekdays, southbound trains from Springfield will depart at 6:00 a.m., 7:15 a.m., 10:40 a.m., 12:25 p.m., 2:10 p.m., 4:05 p.m., 5:05 p.m. and 7:20 p.m.  Departure times from Hartford will be approximately 34 minutes later.

In the northbound direction, Amtrak's new schedule will fill a five-hour gap in the previous schedule between 9:05 a.m. and 2:10 p.m., and adjust other departures to be more convenient.  Northbound weekday departures from New Haven will be offered at 8:50 a.m., 10:15 a.m., 12:55 p.m., 2:15 p.m., 4:10 p.m., 5:15 p.m., 7:25 p.m., and 8:30 p.m.  Departures from Hartford will be approximately 42 minutes later.

As always, convenient rail connections are available in New Haven to other destinations along the Northeast Corridor, including New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington.

New Lower Fares Offered

Starting today, Amtrak is offering significantly lower fares for intercity travel on the Springfield Line.  One-way fares between cities along the route have been reduced $5 to $15, which is, in many cases, more than 50 percent.  For example, fares on off-peak trains between Springfield and Hartford have been reduced from $21 to $10 ($11 for peak trains).  The off-peak fare between Springfield and New Haven is now $19, down from $29.

Monthly pass riders are in for even bigger savings.  Pass fares between Springfield and New Haven have been reduced from $284 to $171; between Springfield and Hartford, from $142 to $81; and between Hartford and New Haven from $221 to $108.

Spring/Summer Timetables Take Effect April 28

The increase in Connecticut Valley service is part of a broader schedule change, which takes effect April 28, 2003.  Passengers may obtain copies of the Spring/Summer Timetable at most staffed Amtrak stations, or by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL.  Schedule information is also available online at 


Beginning April 28, the Capitol Corridor will run 12 trains each weekday between Sacramento, the East Bay and San Jose, up from nine in October, that according to the

"Capitol tucked the new train into the midday schedule, which cuts the time between trains in the morning and afternoon from two hours to 90 minutes. Its nine-train weekend schedule will not change."


New selections available on long-distance trains nationwide 

WASHINGTON - With new expanded dining car menus introduced this month on all long-distance Amtrak trains, passengers enjoying the unique, first-class railroad dining experience are enjoying an even greater variety of appetizers, entrées and desserts. The expanded menus offer all passengers exciting new selections for breakfast, lunch and dinner - many with larger portion sizes and reduced prices.

Breakfast selections include a variety of hot and cold entrees such as pancakes, a three-cheese quiche, and cooked-to-order eggs as well as a continental breakfast.  One breakfast entrée (a quiche or frittata) is available on the lunch menu for late risers.  Lunch selections include burgers, a turkey and swiss sandwich, beef chili, chicken pot pie and a green salad.  A Gardenburger (vegetarian burger) is available on each of the three lunch menus.  Also, a tossed salad is now served with selected lunch entrees.

For dinner, passengers may choose beef tenderloin, New York strip steak, seared catfish, stuffed chicken or ravioli primavera, among other entrees.  An evening special - priced from $9.00 to $11.00 - is now available with every dinner menu.  In addition, a selection of wines may be served with dinner at a price of $8.00 per 12.5 ounce bottle.

Dessert selections include cheesecake, apple pie, chocolate bundt cake or ice cream.  Four different desserts are available on each of the lunch and dinner menus.  Coffee, tea, milk or juice is now included in the price of the main entrée for all meals. 

"Fine dining should be the signature of a first class long distance rail experience," said David L. Gunn, Amtrak's President and CEO.  "These new menus offer an opportunity to enjoy the on-board dining experience with a broader choice of high-quality meals prepared especially by our on-board chefs - a clear competitive difference setting us apart from other forms of transportation."   

The expanded menus are a part of a new meal rotation Amtrak has developed to improve the dining experience on board long-distance trains without raising food service operating costs.  The new meals are offered on three different menus, which rotate concurrently on different trains, ensuring passengers are offered a variety of meal selections. The system allows passengers to dine on one menu on their outbound trip and enjoy a different menu on the return trip - even if it is on the same train service. Additionally, in most instances, passengers connecting to different long-distance trains will be offered a different menu from their previous train. This allows passengers who spend several days traveling up to three different menus, each with a variety of selections and an improved quality in the entrees served.

Most of Amtrak's long-distance trains include a full-service dining car, which serves hot meals prepared on board for breakfast, lunch and dinner to both first class and coach class passengers.  All meals for first class passengers are included in the price of their train ticket while coach class passengers may dine for an additional charge.  Amtrak's new menus are available in all of the dining cars with the exception of the Auto Train, which offers its own menu selections.  In addition to the new menus, special menus are available for children.  Kosher and vegetarian selections are also available.


Selma, N.C. - State transportation and Amtrak officials today announced that Selma soon will have additional train service.

Beginning Monday, April 28, the New York-to-Florida Palmetto passenger train will make daily stops at the Selma depot. The announcement of expanded service comes five months after state and local officials gathered to celebrate the renovation completion of the 1924 train station.

"The restored Selma station enables us to better serve citizens of Johnston County and eastern North Carolina," said state Rail Director Patrick Simmons. "Not only will you be able to board the train in Selma for places like Charlotte, Washington and New York, but now you can take the train from Selma to Florida, as well."

The northbound Palmetto (#90) will stop at 9:12 a.m., while the southbound Palmetto (#89) will stop at 5:35 p.m..  However, due to CSX Transportation track work during the next several weeks, the northbound train schedule temporarily will be altered Mondays through Fridays. On weekdays from April 28 - June 20, the northbound Palmetto will be rerouted around construction and will stop in Selma at 11:12 a.m. The trains will operate according to their normal schedule on Saturdays and Sundays.

The Palmetto becomes the second daily train service for Selma. The Charlotte-to-New York Carolinian service began in 1990. The northbound Carolinian (#80) stops at 12:31 p.m., while the southbound Carolinian (#79) stops at 3:46 p.m.

Simmons said the addition of the Palmetto service in Selma provides a great way for folks from all over eastern North Carolina to travel north and south by train.

"We think it will be especially helpful for our military and their families to have another option for taking the train," he said, adding that Amtrak offers 10% discounts for all active military personnel.

The Selma Union Depot was built as a joint passenger station for the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad (now CSX Transportation) and the Southern Railway (now Norfolk Southern Corporation).  When the building began deteriorating, the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and town of Selma partnered to restore the station and return it to its original use. The newly renovated station reopened last November.

SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD RULES IN FAVOR OF AMTRAK ON DOWNEASTER - AGAIN! - March 25, 2003. The Surface Transportation Board has once again ruled in favor of Amtrak saying that Guilford Rail System cannot restrict speeds of up to 79 mph on the Downeaster line between Boston and Portland, ME. The track is owned by Guilford which argued that the 115 pound rail is insufficient for such speeds.

NARP is reporting that Guilford is now refusing to implement the STB's latest order!

FULL TEXT OF THE DECISION-STB Finance Docket No. 33697



Decided: March 19, 2003

By petition filed on February 20, 2003, Guilford Rail System (Guilford) requests that we clarify our decision served in this proceeding on January 31, 2003 (Weight of Rail III). That decision ordered that, subject to the track safety requirements of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Guilford must allow the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) to operate over Guilford's line at speeds of up to 79 miles per hour. Guilford asks us to clarify that "nothing in Weight of Rail III is intended to render the [FRA's] regulatory framework for railroad safety inapplicable to Amtrak's operation over Guilford's line . . . and that FRA, rather than this Board, has jurisdiction over any safety-related issues that might arise in respect of such operation." On March 12, 2003, Amtrak filed a reply opposing Guilford's petition on the ground that our decision made that clear.

We agree with Amtrak that our decision in Weight of Rail III was clear. In that decision, we stated (at 1) that:

 Amtrak has completed the line rehabilitation, according to the terms set out in Weight of Rail I [decision issued October 22, 1999]. Therefore, it has complied with our conditions, and our analysis of this matter is complete. Accordingly, subject to FRA's safety jurisdiction, Guilford must permit Amtrak to operate over the line at issue at FRA Class 4 speeds.

We also stated (at 4) that:
FRA has indicated . . . that Amtrak should not be prevented from operating at speeds of up to 79 mph as long as the line is maintained in accordance with FRA Class 4 track safety standards. Accordingly, we now find that Amtrak has complied with Weight of Rail I, and we order Guilford to permit Amtrak to operate at FRA Class 4 speeds.
Finally, we stated (at 4) that "[a]s with other rail matters, we would expect that FRA will maintain oversight to the extent safety issues are concerned." Accordingly, we see no need for clarification. This decision will not significantly affect either the quality of the human environment or the conservation of energy resources.
It is ordered:
1. Guilford's petition is denied.
2. This decision is effective on its date of service.
By the Board,
Chairman Nober and Commissioner Morgan.

PRO-AMTRAK AMENDMENT TO FY 04 BUDGET PASSES IN SENATE - March 23, 2003. The U.S. Senate Friday adopted legislation authored by U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., to invest $1.8 billion in Amtrak's National Passenger Rail Service.  The vote in favor of the amendment to increase the appropriation from $900 million was approved by a 51--49 vote. Three Republicans (Chafee-RI, Specter-PA and Snowe-ME) and one Independent (Jeffords-VT) voted with 47 Democrats to pass the measure by a razor thin margin. One Democrat (Miller-GA) voted with 48 Republicans against the bill.

"This funding level will ensure that the railroad remains viable throughout the entirety of 2004.  It will also allow the railroad to make some long-deferred capital investments to improve Amtrak's reliability and ensure the continuation of safe and timely rail service.   These investments include the replacement of Amtrak's aging track infrastructure and the rehabilitation of a number of railroad bridges that are several decades old and in desperate need of renewal," Byrd said during Senate debate.

 "Amtrak is the nation's passenger rail service.  It is not just service for big cities or for urban regions.  For many rural Americans, Amtrak represents the only major transportation link to the rest of the country.  With that in mind, I worked hard to ensure that Amtrak received enough funding to keep all of its trains running, not just those in the more heavily populated areas," Byrd said.

The West Virginia Democrat offered the Amtrak legislation as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2004 Budget Resolution.  That resolution only provided $900 million for Amtrak, singling out the rail system for one of the largest funding cuts in the federal budget.  The Byrd amendment requires that Congress double the Administration's proposed $900 million Amtrak budget to $1.8 billion.

 "A funding level of $900 million for 2004 will ensure that the railroad enters bankruptcy about halfway through the fiscal year.  It ensures that thousands of Amtrak passengers will be left standing at the station.  It further ensures that millions of daily commuters that use mass transit systems that utilize Amtrak property will not be able to get to work.   This is a reckless policy that should be rejected," Byrd argued.

The $1.8 billion figure was provided by the bipartisan Amtrak Board of Directors.  Byrd has been working with the Board to find ways to make the railroad more cost efficient.


Grouped By Vote Position

YEAs ---51

Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Biden (D-DE)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Breaux (D-LA)
Byrd (D-WV)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Carper (D-DE)
Chafee (R-RI)
Clinton (D-NY)
Conrad (D-ND)
Corzine (D-NJ)
Daschle (D-SD)
Dayton (D-MN)
Dodd (D-CT)

Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Edwards (D-NC)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Graham (D-FL)
Harkin (D-IA)
Hollings (D-SC)
Inouye (D-HI)
Jeffords (I-VT)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)

Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (D-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sarbanes (D-MD)
Schumer (D-NY)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (R-PA)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Wyden (D-OR)

NAYs ---49

Alexander (R-TN)
Allard (R-CO)
Allen (R-VA)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burns (R-MT)
Campbell (R-CO)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Cochran (R-MS)
Coleman (R-MN)
Collins (R-ME)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Craig (R-ID)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeWine (R-OH)

Dole (R-NC)
Domenici (R-NM)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Fitzgerald (R-IL)
Frist (R-TN)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagel (R-NE)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lott (R-MS)
Lugar (R-IN)
McCain (R-AZ)

McConnell (R-KY)
Miller (D-GA)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Nickles (R-OK)
Roberts (R-KS)
Santorum (R-PA)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Smith (R-OR)
Stevens (R-AK)
Sununu (R-NH)
Talent (R-MO)
Thomas (R-WY)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Warner (R-VA)

BUSH WOULD SLASH AMTRAK - PROPOSES ELIMINATING SOME OR ALL LONG DISTANCE TRAINS - February , 2003. In an effort to impact the Congressional budge debate the Bush administration has positioned itself in favor of major Amtrak service cutbacks and employee reductions. The administration proposed that Amtrak receive $900 million next year (FY -04), which is far less than the amount that Amtrak CEO David Gunn says it will need to just survive.

"One of the reasons behind Amtrak's fiscal difficulties is its continued operation of several routes that regularly lose hundreds of dollars each time a passenger steps aboard," said a report by the federal DOT. "For several trains it would literally be cheaper for Amtrak to buy each passenger a plane ticket to the next destination," the statement went on. The Bush administration said in its budget plan that underused and inefficient routes should be eliminated. But Amtrak spokesman Dan Steele said "It remains our position that maintaining a national network of trains is a federal responsibility and we're committed to preserving that network."

While the DOT report does not specifically say which routes it wants Amtrak to eliminate it does list the ones it finds most unprofitable. These routes include: The Sunset Ltd, Pennsylvanian, Texas Eagle, Three Rivers, Southwest Chief and the Kentucky Cardinal.

If the five highest money-losing lines, according to the administration, were terminated, several communities would no longer have Amtrak service, including: Pensacola, Fla.; El Paso, Texas; Palm Springs, Calif.; Tucson, Ariz.; Lafayette, La.; and Maricopa, Ariz., which serves Phoenix.

The Bush administration proposal would effectively eliminate, not only the routes, but the broad political support that Amtrak enjoys, thus making nearly impossible for the railroad to have effective representation in Congress. This shrewd political ruse would disable a truly non-partisan and broad based grass roots advocacy movement that is the cornerstone of our democracy.

OMNIBUS FUNDING BILL PASSES WITH JUST ENOUGH FOR AMTRAK - February 14, 2003. The Omnibus Funding bill for FY 2003, which began last October, has been approved by the Joint House-Senate Committee and now goes to President Bush for his signature or veto. We expect him to sign it. Amtrak gets $1.05 billion which is not a "shutdown budget,". The $800 million which had formerly passed the House would have been.

According to NARP, the bad news is that the bill continues the tradition of giving Amtrak "just enough" to get by. The bill also includes language that, in theory, could be used by the DOT Secretary to kill individual long-distance trains. This language was the price for getting the $1.05 billion. However, the Bush Administration did not seek this language (it was added in Committee by House Republicans) and seems unlikely to use it to get rid of specific routes because it would put the entire onus of life or death routes on the one person, the Secretary of Transportation.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), one of Amtrak's most ardent supporters, was quoted in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, saying: "This budget will help ensure that Amtrak continues to operate for another year as a national railroad system. We must also continue to pursue long-term reform and better service."

For next year--FY 2004--Amtrak's request is $1.8 billion. The increased funding level will allow Amtrak to further stabilize the national system, repair wrecked and damaged cars and start the massive backlog of capital work needed to maintain commercially viable speeds on the Northeast Corridor over the next few years.


WASHINGTON - Amtrak Chairman John Robert Smith and President David L. Gunn today issued the following statement:

The Administration's proposal of a $900 million appropriation for FY 2004 begins the process of determining Amtrak's funding level for the next fiscal year. While this debate will soon be joined, the immediate priority of Amtrak's Board and management is to resolve the FY 2003 funding level so that we may then have a debate on the FY 2004 level.

For FY 2003, Amtrak has requested a federal grant of $1.2 billion to meet its basic needs and operate the nation's passenger rail system safely and reliably. While we are encouraged by the Senate's recent approval of this amount and look forward to a final appropriations bill that maintains this funding level, we have made clear to all parties involved in this decision what will happen if a lesser amount is approved. There can be no meaningful discussion of reform or the 2004 budget until the FY 2003 budget has been approved.

Amtrak has undertaken significant reforms to improve its cost-efficiency in the past year, including a reorganization eliminating more than 500 positions, adjustments to routes and schedules and the withdrawal from a money-losing express business. These reforms show clearly that Amtrak's administration is not conducting business as usual, and they will continue.

This year, Congress is scheduled to take up Amtrak's reauthorization. We agree with the Administration, as it has said today, that the Amtrak reauthorization process should begin as soon as possible. We urgently want to work with Congress and the states to build on the foundation of our passenger rail system to further improve and reform its service and cost recovery and make Amtrak a full partner in the nation's intermodal transportation system.

We further agree with the remarks made by DOT Deputy Secretary Jackson today that passenger rail is an important component of our nation's transportation infrastructure, and as such we believe long-distance trains play a significant role. Until Congress and other policymakers determine otherwise, as mandated by law, we will continue to operate this system as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.



WASHINGTON - As part of legislation passed by Congress last night, Amtrak will receive a $1.05 billion operating and capital grant for Fiscal Year 2003. Additionally, repayment of the $100 million U.S. DOT loan from June 28, 2002, is deferred.  Amtrak's $1.2 billion request for the fiscal year was predicated upon projected revenue levels and tight controls on spending. The amount appropriated by Congress only reinforces that sustaining Amtrak operations will be an ongoing challenge. Though the budget will be extremely tight, this funding level should be sufficient to operate the national system for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends September 30, 2003.

Amtrak will continue to bring greater levels of efficiency to its operations without degrading the level of service to our customers and the safety we provide to our customers and employees.

Amtrak and the DOT must now immediately work to expeditiously establish grant procedures so that the funding and operations of the national passenger railroad system continue uninterrupted.

Source: Amtrak


I have one strategic addendum to this concerning Congressman Bill Young of Florida who is one of the four members of the joint House-Senate Committee that will make or break the funding allocation for Amtrak.

Simply put, many of us visit Florida, the sunshine state, which benefits heavily from our tourism dollars. IF you do, call Congressman Young's office and let him know that you want to see Amtrak fully funded at the $1.2 billion level.

Call 202/224-3121 and ask for Congressman Bill Young's office. Do it! ....Craig

From NARP:

(1) Final resolution of Amtrak's bid for $1.2 billion in the current fiscal year, which the Senate approved January 16, is officially determined by the House-Senate conference committee. The actual decision, however, is likely to be made by the "big four," that is, Senate Appropriations Chairman Ted Stevens (R-AK), Ranking Member Robert C. Byrd (D-WV), House Appropriations Chairman C. W. (Bill) Young (R-FL), and Ranking Member David R. Obey (D-WI). So please ask your legislators to speak to one of those gentlemen. In other words, if you have a Republican senator, ask him or her to speak to Stevens; if a Democratic House member, ask him or her to speak to Obey, etc. [Technically, and contrary to my previous message, the entire Senate Appropriations Committee will be on the conference committee, but--again--what really counts is the "big four." House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-TX, could also be crucial.]

(2) Please ask your U.S. representative to sign one of the two pro-Amtrak letters now circulating, which are to be sent around the middle of next week. Text of the two letters are shown below, plus a partial list of Republican signers. (If your representative is on the list, be sure to say "thanks".) To sign the Republican letter, ask representatives to contact Steve Stallmer in Rep. Quinn's office (225-3306). The contact for the Democratic letter is Frank Mulvey on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads minority staff (225-3274).

(3) To reach your representative, use the Capitol Hill switchboard, 202/224-3121. For other contact information, go to <>. Remember to show your own regular address if you use e-mail or FAX; time is too short to use regular mail.


As you begin conference negotiations on the FY 03 Omnibus Appropriations bill, we are writing to respectfully request that Amtrak be funded at $1.2 billion. As you know, the Senate adopted this level in a bipartisan amendment without objection.
Enactment of the House Committee mark of $762 million would guarantee Amtrak's insolvency and a complete shutdown of the railroad by springtime. The $1.2 billion level would allow President and CEO, David Gunn, to bring stability to Amtrak for the remainder of the fiscal year so Congress can debate the future of passenger rail service in this country.
Mr. Gunn has written a budget that focuses on repairing equipment needed for revenue service and making investments in their infrastructure just to maintain current speeds and operations. In doing so, he had to cut or defer nearly $200 million in activities and projects critical to the railroad just to get to the $1.2 billion level. Failure to invest in certain urgent capital expenses is just as perilous to Amtrak's operations as is a reduction to the operating subsidy.
Mr. Gunn has demonstrated his ability to reorganize the railroad, eliminate unnecessary positions and open Amtrak's financial records to the public. We believe he possesses the knowledge and discipline to reform the railroad. Again, we request that you fund Amtrak at $1.2 billion in fiscal year 2003 and allow Mr. Gunn the opportunity to continue to do so.
Thank you for your consideration of our request.

(5) PARTIAL LIST OF REPUBLICAN MEMBERS WHO HAVE ALREADY SIGNED (alphabetical by state, district number in parentheses)

CT: Simmons (2); Johnson, Nancy (6)
DE: Castle (At Large)
IL: Weller (11), Johnson, Timothy (15)
IA: Leach (1)
KS: Moran (1)
MD: Gilchrest (1)
MI: Upton (6)
MS: Pickering (3)
NJ: LoBiondo (2); Smith, Christopher (4); Ferguson (7)
NY: King (3); Kelly (19); Boehlert (23); McHugh (24); Walsh (25); Quinn (30); Houghton (31)
OH: LaTourette (19)
PA: Gerlach (6); Greenwood (8); Platts (19); English (21)



Dear Conferee:
We write to urge you to adopt the Senate approved FY 2003 funding level for Amtrak, the nation's intercity passenger rail carrier. The Senate appropriated $1.2 billion for Amtrak; an amount that virtually everyone agrees is the minimum Amtrak requires to continue operating a national network of intercity passenger trains. Anything less than $1.2 billion will force the corporation to begin shutting down train operations. Adopting the House Appropriations Committee mark of $762 million would guarantee insolvency by the end of the Spring.
The Administration has indicated that it wants Amtrak to adopt a number of "structural changes" in its operations before it will support appropriating the amount Amtrak needs to survive. While we agree that some reforms might be helpful, the ones proposed by the Administration, such as separating the Northeast Corridor from Amtrak or franchising out long distance train services, are neither feasible nor consistent with a long term strategy of preserving and developing the nation's intercity rail passenger network. In any event, regardless of whether any particular reforms have merit, this is not the time to begin making draconian changes to Amtrak's operations.
The events of September 11, 2001 demonstrated the need for transportation alternatives. We need to be expanding our options--not contracting them. Yet, if Amtrak does not receive the $1.2 billion for FY 2003 the system will shut down. Many long distance trains will disappear forever and we will no longer have a national intercity rail transportation system.
Amtrak's new President, David Gunn, has taken a number of positive steps that have been widely praised by those familiar with Amtrak, including bringing greater transparency to Amtrak's accounting processes. Mr. Gunn has said repeatedly that he needs time to stabilize the corporation and that major restructuring at this time would be counterproductive. We agree. On Monday, January 22, 2003, he told the U.S. Conference of Mayors that Amtrak will need $2 billion annually for the next 5 years to bring the railroad back to a state of good repair. This estimate is consistent with those made by the Department of Transportation Inspector General and the General Accounting Office. In fact, the Subcommittee on Railroads of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure authorized by voice vote $1.975 billion for Amtrak for FY 2003. This authorization included the full $1.2 billion Amtrak requested and additional amounts to address security and life safety needs.
Shutting down Amtrak or eliminating many of its train services is not what the American people want. In poll after poll, Americans have registered their strong support for Amtrak. A CNN poll taken just this past weekend showed that 85 percent of respondents supported giving Amtrak $2 billion a year. Amtrak is asking for $1.2 billion for FY 2003. We strongly urge you to adopt the level of funding approved by the Senate.


WASHINGTON - Amtrak will introduce a 10th Acela Express roundtrip between Boston and New York on Monday, providing new midday departures for business travelers.  The new southbound train will depart Boston South Station at 11:15 a.m., arriving in New York at 2:42 p.m. and Washington at 5:47 p.m.  A new northbound train will depart New York at 12:03 p.m., arriving in Boston at 3:33 p.m.

"The new Acela Express departures will give travelers more options during the midday hours," said Barbara Richardson, Vice President of Marketing and Sales. 


WASHINGTON - Business and leisure travelers alike will take notice of Amtrak's new 8:30 p.m. Acela Express departure from Washington to New York - not because of the train's seemingly endless list of amenities or its convenient after-dinner departure time, but because of the incredible $59 price tag for business class seats.

Starting Monday, January 27, the new train - number 2118 - will be added to the current schedule of Acela Express and Metroliner services, bringing the total number of premium weekday departures to 19.  Amtrak will offer the $59 introductory fare through Friday, April 25, 2003.

"This is an outstanding offer for travelers between Washington and New York," said Barbara Richardson, Vice President of Marketing and Sales.  "$59 is the lowest price we have ever published for Acela Express travel."

Indeed, the $59 fare is less than half of the lowest price currently available for an Acela Express trip between Washington and New York, and fares to intermediate points will be even lower.  The train makes station stops in Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia and New Jersey.


Dear Amtrak Co-workers:

Last night, the U.S. Senate passed Senator Patty Murray's amendment restoring Amtrak operating and capital funding to $1.2 billion for FY 2003. I think you know that had this amendment not passed, we would really have been in the soup.

I appreciate Senator Murray's effort and the bi-partisan support of the Senators who helped to pass this amendment, especially Kay Bailey Hutchison, Robert Byrd, Olympia Snowe, Ernest Hollings, Lincoln Chafee, Joe Biden, Arlen Specter, Harry Reid, Jim Jeffords, Richard Durbin and Tom Carper.

I also appreciate Commerce Committee Chairman McCain's comments last night and his desire to run a better railroad. We're making progress, but we've all got a lot more work ahead of us.

As for the legislation, once the House and Senate have agreed to the same bill, it will go to the President to be signed. That could happen in the next one or two weeks, but no one really knows. We do know that at some point in time Congress will have to resolve the difference between the House's intention to fund us at $762 million and the Senate's action to fund us at $1.2 billion. I will keep you posted on any more developments.


David L. Gunn

INFO ON AMENDMENT BY SENATOR MURRAY - January 17, 2003. The amendment to the funding bill offered by Senator Murray had 19 cosponsors listed below. It was approved by a voice vote, not a roll call vote. The amendment was called S.AMDT.30: "To ensure the continued viability of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation."


Sen Hutchison, Kay Bailey (R-TX) - 1/16/2003
Sen Byrd, Robert C. (D-WV) - 1/16/2003
Sen Snowe, Olympia J. (R-ME) - 1/16/2003
Sen Hollings, Ernest F. (D-SC) - 1/16/2003
Sen Chafee, Lincoln D. (R-RI) - 1/16/2003
Sen Biden Jr., Joseph R.(D-DE) - 1/16/2003
Sen Specter, Arlen (R-PA) - 1/16/2003
Sen Leahy, Patrick J. (D-VT) - 1/16/2003
Sen Carper, Thomas R. (D-DE) - 1/16/2003
Sen Lautenberg, Frank R. (D-NJ) - 1/16/2003
Sen Corzine, Jon (D-NJ) - 1/16/2003
Sen Kerry, John F. (D-MA) - 1/16/2003
Sen Rockefeller IV, John D. (D-WV) - 1/16/2003
Sen Dodd, Christopher J.(D-CT) - 1/16/2003
Sen Clinton, Hillary Rodham (D-NY) - 1/16/2003
Sen Reid, Harry M.(D-NV) - 1/16/2003
Sen Jeffords, James M. (I-VT) - 1/16/2003
Sen Collins, Susan M. (R-ME) - 1/16/2003
Sen Durbin, Richard J. (D-IL) - 1/16/2003

SENATE APPROVES $1.2 BILLION FOR AMTRAK -- January 16, 2003. In a rare vote today Senate Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the Bush administration's roll back of an appropriation for Amtrak. The Senate tonight voted instead to restore $1.2 billion to the Amtrak budget.

Many thanks to all of you who called your Senators and lent support to this critical effort!


WASHINGTON - Amtrak President David L. Gunn made the following statement today:

"Earlier today I met with Senator Patty Murray of the Appropriations Committee concerning Amtrak funding for FY '03.  I updated Senator Murray on the progress being made to stabilize Amtrak's operations and finances and to bring tight new fiscal controls to bear on the company.  I also repeated my concern that federal funding substantially less than $1.2 billion in FY '03 will take us right back to the near-shutdown we experienced last summer.

Senator Murray informed me that she intends to offer an amendment to the omnibus appropriations bill being considered this afternoon to restore Amtrak funding to the $1.2 billion that is necessary to maintain service.  I want to thank Senator Murray for her leadership, as well as those in the Senate who support this amendment.  If this amendment is not approved by the Senate today and the funding level stands as it is in the bill, Amtrak will have no other choice but an orderly shutdown of all service this spring or sooner.  The funding level in the bill as it currently stands offers no other alternative but an orderly shutdown of all Amtrak service.

Again, I appreciate Senator Murray's support for our efforts to run a better, more cost-efficient passenger railroad, as well as the support of others in the Senate, and look forward to the outcome of this afternoon's vote."


To NARP Members--January 14, 2003:

There is still no agreement on a Senate organizing resolution, so Senator Frist, the new majority leader, plans to bypass the appropriations committee and have the FY03 omnibus appropriations bill on the Senate floor today. It is not clear whether this will work. It does seem clear that--if the process gets that far--amendments will be offered to increase Amtrak to $1.2 billion (or to nearly that amount) from the roughly $800 million "shutdown" level in the Republican bill.

The best outcome on such amendments will happen if Senate offices receive calls urging "yes" votes on any Amtrak amendment aimed at substantially increasing funding above the inadequate level in the omnibus bill. Any Senate office can be reached through the Capitol Hill switchboard at 202/224-3121. See for other ways to communicate, but time is very short.

A list of co-sponsors for the new Hollings bill, S. 104, is now available at If your Senator is already on the list, be sure to include a thank-you in your message, but also emphasize that S. 104, an authorization bill, can only help if the Senate approves a big enough appropriation to keep Amtrak running.

As always, we appreciate insights from your communications. Send them by e-mail (preferred), phone or FAX (202/408-8287).

--Ross B. Capon,

NARP Executive Director


To NARP Members--January 10, 2003:

The Senate Appropriations Committee meeting intially expected today has been postponed at least until Tuesday. Meanwhile, news reports indicate that Republican leaders have agreed to slash Amtrak sharply -- 1/3 off of $1.2 billion. It is more important than ever to contact your senators. More information about the funding situation is on today's hotline message at <>.

--Ross B. Capon

NARP Executive Director

GOP PROPOSES ROLL BACK OF AMTRAK FUNDING - January 10, 2002. According to the Associated Press "Senate Republicans put finishing touches Thursday on a $385 billion package of overdue spending bills that would cut education, Amtrak and other programs by nearly $10 billion from levels approved last year when Democrats were in charge."

"Incoming Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, planned for his panel to vote on the legislation as early as Monday."

"Amtrak, the financially struggling passenger railroad, would lose about one-third of the $1.2 billion in federal subsidies Democrats had planned to give it. Last fall, Amtrak President David Gunn said anything less than $1.2 billion could cause the carrier's demise."

AMTRAK CUTS COACH RATES - January 8, 2002. Amtrak announced that it is making rail travel a better value than ever before with a rollback in coach fares on many of its routes from coast-to-coast.  These new fares, which are available beginning today, are up to 25 percent less than previous fares.

Amtrak is also launching its Winter Promotion.  For a limited time, fares to many of Amtrak's most popular destinations are an even better value.  With Amtrak's Winter Promotion, companions travel for free and a 25 percent discount is available for those traveling solo.  This promotion may be combined with Amtrak's new fare rollback, making travel this winter on Amtrak a must.

"With this rollback in fares, we hope to not only stimulate interest in rail travel, but also to provide a draw for the travel industry as a whole," said Barbara J. Richardson, Amtrak's vice president of marketing and sales.  "Combined with our Winter Promotion, passengers have another reason to take Amtrak, whether they are traveling for business or for pleasure."

The fare rollback is available for coach travel on most of Amtrak's long distance routes but does not apply to travel between cities in the Northeast Corridor.  In addition, on some routes, fares for sleeping accommodations may also be discounted.  The new fares are available online at, by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL or through a local travel agent.  All fares are subject to availability.

Amtrak's new fares are available on routes including:

Amtrak's Winter Promotion

With Amtrak's Winter Promotion, when passengers purchase one ticket, they will receive a companion's ticket for free.  Passengers traveling solo will receive a 25 percent discount.  Combined with the fare rollback, the Winter Promotion offers incredibly competitive fares for travel on many of Amtrak's routes.

These great deals are available for sale January 7 through February 15, 2003 for travel January 10 through August 28, 2003.  To take advantage of the Winter Promotion, passengers should log onto, call 1-800-USA-RAIL, or visit a local travel agent and mention code H255 for the free companion fare and code H259 for the discount for single travelers.

Families traveling together can enjoy even greater savings.  On Amtrak, up to two children, ages 2 to 15 can accompany each fare-paying adult at 50 percent off.  That means that for families, two adults may travel using the free companion offer with up to four children traveling at half price.

The Winter Promotion discounts are in addition to Amtrak's new everyday low fares but may not be combined with any other promotions and are not available on the Downeaster, Metroliner, and Acela Express services.  Reservations are required at least three days prior to travel, and passengers using the free companion offer must travel together.  Tickets may be upgraded to include sleeping accommodations upon payment of the applicable charges.  Fares are non-refundable once purchased.  The Winter Promotion is not valid on any departure requiring the purchase of a peak or unrestricted fare.  Other restrictions and holiday blackout dates do apply.

For more information see the Amtrak press release at:


Amtrak President David Gunn promised to put two Turboliner trainsets that have been rebuilt by the state at SuperSteel Schenectady into service within 90 days, New York state Transportation Commissioner Michael Boardman said Tuesday.

The commitment from Gunn to put the "Turbos" into service is significant, Boardman said.

Under an agreement with Amtrak, New York is spending $98.5 million to refurbish seven RTL-III trainsets that were originally built by Rohr Industries in the mid-1970s.

Each five-car trainset consists of two Turbopower cars, two passenger cars, and a cafe car. The Turbopower cars are able to carry passengers, with one being configured for business class and one for coach.

One train is finished and tested, while another will soon be ready.

Amtrak officials say they need to have more spare parts on hand, more manuals, and more time to train crews before putting the 264-seat trains into service.

As part of the deal, Amtrak was supposed to spend a matching sum to renovate railroad tracks, including adding a second track between Schenectady and Rensselaer, to make high-speed train service practicable.

The bottom line, Boardman said, is that Amtrak's financial situation is so precarious that while the railroad would like to follow through it can't.

"The difficulties that Amtrak is having in terms of maintaining their finances makes it difficult for them to continue to progress on high speed rail improvements to tracks and signals," Boardman said.

Source: American City Business Journals, Inc.

National Defense Rail Act S.104 Update: Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) has become the latest co-sponsor of S.104.

On January 8, 2003, Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-SC) reintroduced his blue print for a national passenger rail system, S. 104, the National Defense Rail Act . The legislation, which has 30 co-sponsors in the Senate, was favorably approved by the Commerce Committee in the previous Congressional session by a vote of 20-3.

31 Co-sponsors: (as of January 16, 2003)

Sen Bayh, Evan (D-IN) - 1/7/2003
Sen Biden Jr., Joseph R (D-DE). - 1/7/2003
Sen Boxer, Barbara (D-CA) - 1/7/2003
Sen Breaux, John B. (D-LA) - 1/7/2003
Sen Burns, Conrad R. (R-MT) - 1/7/2003
Sen Cantwell, Maria (D-WA) - 1/7/2003
Sen Carper, Thomas R. (D-DE) - 1/7/2003
Sen Clinton, Hillary Rodham - 1/7/2003
Sen Cochran, Thad (R-MS) - 1/9/2003
Sen Collins, Susan M. (R-ME) - 1/7/2003
Sen Corzine, Jon (D-NJ) - 1/7/2003
Sen Dodd, Christopher J.(D-CT) - 1/7/2003
Sen Dorgan, Byron L. (D-ND) - 1/7/2003
Sen Durbin, Richard J. (D-IL) - 1/7/2003
Sen Feinstein, Dianne (D-CA) - 1/9/2003
Sen Inouye, Daniel K. (D-HA) - 1/9/2003
Sen Jeffords, James M. (I-VT) - 1/7/2003
Sen Kennedy, Edward M. (D-MA) - 1/7/2003
Sen Kerry, John F. (D-MA) - 1/9/2003
Sen Kohl, Herb (D-WI) - 2/25/2003
Sen Lautenberg, Frank R. (D-NJ) - 1/7/2003
Sen Leahy, Patrick J. (D-VT) - 1/7/2003
Sen Mikulski, Barbara A. (D-MD) - 1/7/2003
Sen Miller, Zell (D-GA) - 1/7/2003
Sen Nelson, E. Benjamin (D-NE) - 1/9/2003
Sen Reid, Harry M. (D-NV) - 1/7/2003
Sen Sarbanes, Paul S. (D-MD) - 1/7/2003
Sen Schumer, Charles E. (D-NY) - 1/7/2003
Sen Snowe, Olympia J. (R-ME) - 1/7/2003
Sen Specter, Arlen (R-PA) - 1/7/2003
Sen Stevens, Ted (R-AK) - 1/7/2003

Current Status: The bill has been referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.

Hollings' Perspective: Sen. Hollings believes that the U.S. must have a larger vision for a national passenger rail system, and that it must be a national priority that Congress consistently invests in over the long term for both national and economic security.

The U.S. is 23rd among industrial nations in its per capita investment in passenger rail service, and while it has invested $570 billion in its highway and aviation systems, it has only invested $25 billion in rail over the same 30-year period. Hollings believes this is inadequate and unworthy of a leading industrial nation. Additionally, September 11th demonstrated the substantial imbalance in the U.S. transportation system. The over-dependence on the aviation system had enormous ramifications on the entire economy.

Hollings Re-Introduces National Passenger Rail Legislation: Legislation provides long-term blueprint for strong, efficient national passenger rail system - January 10, 2003

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings introduced the National Defense Rail Act (S.104), a bill that provides a long-term strategy to build and maintain an effective national passenger railroad system. The measure authorizes an annual federal investment of $4.6 billion from FY 2004-2008 to develop a world-class, national passenger rail system, which Hollings contends is essential to achieve a balanced U.S. transportation system.

"Anyone traveling on our congested highways or overbooked airplanes can attest to the fact that our nation is in desperate need of a balanced transportation system," said Sen. Hollings. "We have taken an active responsibility in developing infrastructure for highway and air transportation. Now is the time to make that same investment in passenger rail.

"This legislation mirrors my passenger rail bill that last year overwhelmingly passed the Commerce Committee by a vote of 20-3," Hollings continued. "We've made a few changes to the bill and mandated some needed reforms at Amtrak to ensure that we can get broad congressional support, pass this bill and make a sustained commitment to passenger rail service in this country."

The National Defense Interstate Rail Act authorizes $4.6 billion annually through fiscal year 2008, with a one-time $1.3 billion authorization in fiscal year 2004 for security needs and assessments. The bill includes an annual authorization of $1.55 billion to develop high-speed corridors outside of the Northeast Corridor. The funding would be used for infrastructure acquisition, highway-rail grade crossing improvement and elimination, and the acquisition of rolling stock and track and signal equipment. The measure also authorizes $270 million annually for the development of short distance corridors between larger urban centers and provides $580 million annually to preserve longer distance routes for communities without the population densities to merit air service.

The bill includes $1.31 billion in annual funding for the repair, maintenance and growth of passenger rail tracks operated in the Northeast Corridor, which have become an invaluable transportation asset to passengers traveling between Washington, D.C. and Boston. These funds will enable Amtrak to eliminate its capital backlog of projects, maintain ongoing projects and improve its capacity to accommodate projected growth in traffic.

Hollings' bill also mandates that Amtrak implements several reform measures, including a new cost accounting and reporting system, to be designed by an independent financial consultant; a five-year financial plan which Amtrak will submit on an annual basis to detail categories of projected capital and operating cash flows; the application of any net revenues from non-passenger-related business towards short-term working capital to satisfy current system-wide liabilities; and the application of any net revenues from Northeast Corridor operations towards capital needs in the Northeast Corridor. The bill also repeals the self-sufficiency mandate imposed on Amtrak, which will allow them to focus on providing safe, reliable, efficient passenger rail service, rather than forcing the railroad to explore additional sources of revenue.

VERMONTER BUS RESTORED - January 1, 2003. the Montreal-St. Albans "Vermonter" bus connection has been restored to Amtrak's reservation system, at least through February 5.

NEW FARE STRUCTURE - January 1, 2003. Amtrak's fare structure becomes more attractive for tickets purchased starting next Tuesday, January 7, good for trips starting as early as Friday, January 10.

LOG ONTO EBAY AND BID TO WIN AMTRAK TRAVEL: Starting bids available up to 95 percent off full fares

WASHINGTON &endash; Amtrak is pleased to announce that rail travel is now available for bidding on eBay ( on routes from coast-to-coast.  As part of a three-month trial, Amtrak will make a limited number of tickets on a variety of routes available for bidding at starting prices that are very affordable.  Some opening bid prices are up to 95 percent off full fares. 

Amtrak's store (, will list all current listings and include a search feature to find auctions for travel to and from many of the 500 destinations served by Amtrak.  Sample deals include travel from Chicago to Detroit, Oakland to Los Angeles, and Lorton, Va. to Sanford, Fla. on board the Auto Train.

For more info on Amtrak Auctions on eBay go to:


To NARP Members--January 7, 2003:

The Senate Appropriations Committee plans to consider funding for the CURRENT fiscal year (2003) this Friday, January 10. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the transportation subcommittee chairman, is leaning towards an amount below $1.2 billion. Amtrak President & CEO David Gunn, in a December 16 to appropriations leaders, reiterated that the $762 million approved by the House Appropriations Committee "would guarantee insolvency by spring and the shutting down of the railroad at that time...there are no easy options to any of us if the funding level falls below $1.2 billion."

Please telephone your senators' offices--if possible tomorrow (Wednesday) or Thursday--urging them to work for the $1.2 billion Amtrak requested even before Gunn's arrival. The Senate switchboard, 202/224-3121, connects to all offices, or see our web site for more contact information ( Don't hesitate to call or e-mail NARP if you have questions or learn information that you think we should have.

--Ross B. Capon,

NARP Executive Director


Return to Friends of Amtrak

Return to Friends of Amtrak Archives Menu Page

Page created by: