WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg had harsh words for House Republicans who are crafting a bill that would end Amtrak’s ownership of the heavily-traveled Northeast Corridor rail route. Under the plan, private companies would bid to offer service along the route.
“The House proposal would take our nation’s rail system off the tracks. The Republican proposal to privatize rail on the Northeast Corridor would increase costs for passengers and make rail travel less reliable. I will fight in the Senate to stop any plan that threatens Amtrak and commuters on the Northeast Corridor,” said Lautenberg (D-NJ).
Under the Republican proposal, the Northeast Corridor would be owned by the federal Transportation Department instead of Amtrak, a semi-private company that is partially funded by taxpayers.
The DOT would solicit bids from private companies to take over some or all aspects of providing rail service on the route, which extends from Washington D.C. up to Boston. Amtrak would also be allowed to submit bids.
The bill’s authors, Rep. John Mica of Florida and Rep. Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania, say that private companies could improve service by competing with Amtrak.
Lautenberg argues that Amtrak is an essential part of the region’s infrastructure. “Amtrak makes our region work—and we must invest in this critical asset. A stronger national rail service will be good for our national security and the environment because it will help our country kick its dangerous oil addiction. But let me be clear: privatizing the Northeast Corridor is not a smart or viable way to meet these challenges.”
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