Friday, May 30, 2008

Tell your federal Representative to co-sponsor HR6003 for better Amtrak service

There is some very positive movement in Washington on a stronger financial footing for intercity passenger rail and now is the time to call D.C. and get your Representative on board the train.

The bill is HR6003, the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act. It strengthens the Senate version that passed last year, S.294, particularly by increasing the amount of federal money to match state capital investments. The Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, James Oberstar, is the sponsor of the bill, so that's about as good a sponsor as we could hope for.

This is the right time to get every Representative to co-sponsor the bill to show overwhelming support for this smart investment in Amtrak.

To get the latest from NARP on federal action (and thanks to them for their timely update to call the House), check out their action alert page.

Here is the list of current co-sponsors. If your Representative is not on this list, then you've got your work cut out for you. I just called my Representative, Danny Davis, and left a message for the staffer who handles transportation.

That's my tip for calling Congress, by the way. Ask to speak to the person who handles Amtrak or transportation issues. Tell them that you're a constituent and that you want your Member to co-sponsor HR6003. They'll know what to do with that information. Then get a few more people (friends, family or neighbors) to call.

Rep Altmire, Jason [PA-4]
Rep Arcuri, Michael A. [NY-24]
Rep Bishop, Timothy H. [NY-1]
Rep Boswell, Leonard L. [IA-3]
Rep Braley, Bruce L. [IA-1]
Rep Brown, Corrine [FL-3]
Rep Capuano, Michael E. [MA-8]
Rep Carnahan, Russ [MO-3]
Rep Carney, Christopher P. [PA-10]
Rep Cohen, Steve [TN-9]
Rep Costello, Jerry F. [IL-12]
Rep Cummings, Elijah E. [MD-7]
Rep DeFazio, Peter A. [OR-4]
Rep Farr, Sam [CA-17]
Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51]
Rep Hall, John J. [NY-19]
Rep Higgins, Brian [NY-27]
Rep Hirono, Mazie K. [HI-2]
Rep Holden, Tim [PA-17]
Rep Johnson, Eddie Bernice [TX-30]
Rep Kagen, Steve [WI-8]
Rep Larsen, Rick [WA-2]
Rep Lipinski, Daniel [IL-3]
Rep Loebsack, David [IA-2]
Rep Matsui, Doris O. [CA-5]
Rep McCollum, Betty [MN-4]
Rep McNerney, Jerry [CA-11]
Rep Mica, John L. [FL-7]
Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME-2]
Rep Nadler, Jerrold [NY-8]
Rep Napolitano, Grace F. [CA-38]
Rep Norton, Eleanor Holmes [DC]
Rep Rahall, Nick J., II [WV-3]
Rep Rehberg, Dennis R. [MT]
Rep Salazar, John T. [CO-3]
Rep Shuster, Bill [PA-9]
Rep Sires, Albio [NJ-13]
Rep Space, Zachary T. [OH-18]
Rep Tauscher, Ellen O. [CA-10]
Rep Taylor, Gene [MS-4]
Rep Walz, Timothy J. [MN-1]

Good AP story on congested freight rail network and th

We want to dramatically increase the number of passenger trains running every day.

That means we need more tracks built. Because, as this excellent AP story explains, the existing tracks are all jammed up, particularly in Chicago.

With jammed up tracks comes late Amtrak trains.

Amtrak, which shares the rails with freight trains, is also feeling the pinch. Its long-distance trains were on time just 42 percent of the time last year, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation's inspector general.

The problem on the shared tracks has worsened in recent years as freight traffic has soared. Passenger trains move much faster than most freight trains, and in many areas there is only a single track, forcing trains to pull over onto side tracks and wait while trains coming in the other direction pass.

So while it's easy to blame the host railroads for Amtrak's low on-time performance, the reality is that the host railroads are our partners, not our enemies. We need to figure out how to get more track capacity built.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Amtrak CEO Alex Kummant coming to Springfield this Thursday

Exciting developments for Amtrak Illinois:

The House Rail Committee, led by Chair Elaine Nekritz (D-Des Plaines) and Minority Spokesman Don Moffitt (R-Galesburg) will hold their second annual oversight hearing on Amtrak Illinois this Thursday at 10 am in Room 122B of the Capitol. Last year, then-Board Chair David Laney came to testify. This year, Amtrak CEO Alex Kummant will participate.

There will be a press conference at 1:30 pm as well.

This is how we will continue to expand Amtrak service in the Midwest -- with a strong institutional relationship between the State, Amtrak and the host railroads (who, after all, need to make money delivering trains quickly and on-time to their stations).