Amtrak asks to keep some profit within U.S. Northeast Region

3/19/2014

PHILADELPHIA — U.S. passenger rail company Amtrak has asked Congress to allow it to keep some of the profits from its heavily-traveled Washington-to-Boston run in the northeast rather than spreading it across the passenger rail network nationwide.

PHILADELPHIA — U.S. passenger rail company Amtrak has asked Congress to allow it to keep some of the profits from its heavily-traveled Washington-to-Boston run in the northeast rather than spreading it across the passenger rail network nationwide.

The request came in its annual budget request, in which Amtrak also asked for a 16 percent boost in its funding from Congress, seeking $1.6 billion in subsidies for next year.

"The reality is that status quo federal funding levels put the Northeast Corridor infrastructure at increased risk of major failure with serious economic consequences for the nation," Tony Coscia, chairman of the Amtrak board, wrote in a letter to Congress on Tuesday.

The 457-mile Northeast Corridor, which serves major cities between Boston and Washington, D.C., including New York, Baltimore and Philadelphia, as well as densely populated suburbs in New Jersey and Connecticut, was traveled by an estimated 11.4 million passengers in 2012.

Surplus profits from the region are currently used to bolster Amtrak's national operations, including less-trafficked rural and long-haul routes.

Representative John Mica, a Florida Republican who sits on the== House rail subcommittee, said on Wednesday that he is not opposed to keeping funds in the busy Northeast Corridor, but he held out little hope that the Republican-controlled Congress would vote to increase Amtrak's annual subsidy.

"The longer you put off these much-needed repairs and upgrades the more things begin to fail," said Amtrak spokesman Steve Kulm.

According to a report from the Northeast Corridor Infrastructure and Operations and Advisory Commission, hundreds of the line's bridges and tunnels are over a century old, sections of the electrical power system go back to the 1930s, and signals are decades old.

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