The Rail Passengers Association (RPA) has urged its members to take action in response to president Donald Trump’s new budget, which proposes a $630 million (∼€510 million) cut in Amtrak grants.
In the 2017 Budget, Amtrak received $1.4 billion in funding but in the budget for 2018 £774 million has been allocated to the passenger operator.
A statement in the ‘Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again’ says that it’s proposing to terminate federal support for long-distance services which “consistently suffer from poor on-time performance [55 per cent in 2016], serve a small percentage of the population [15 per cent of Amtrak ridership], and generate the vast majority of Amtrak’s operating losses.”
Continuing, the document states that Amtrak’s long-distance trains “are a vestige of when train service was the only viable transcontinental transportation option.”
With funds remaining for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and state-supported services, the document recommends that Amtrak focuses its resources on better managing its successful corridor services in more densely populated regions.
Reacting to the news, RPA, the largest national rail advocacy group, called on its members to take immediate action to stave off the “draconian” cuts.
It said the Administration’s belief that money needed to operate the National Network after the cuts can come from the states is unfeasible, and that these services will instead by dropped.
In a statement RPA added: “Donald Trump campaigned on a message of bringing America’s infrastructure into the 21st Century. He specifically cited passenger rail, saying it was embarrassing how far behind the US has fallen compared with China, and promising to close that gap.
“Today’s new budget proposal, however, calls for the virtual elimination of Amtrak’s National Network…”
“If funding for Amtrak’s National Network is cut, more than 220 communities will lose service, and more than 140 million Americans will be left at the station. These are mostly smaller and rural towns, and they don’t have airports or Megabuses.”