Committee To Discuss Amtrak Service

A congressional committee will hear testimony today on Amtrak’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including its plans to reduce frequency of service on most long-distance trains to three times a week.

The hearing is being held by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.

It is slated to start at 11 a.m. and will be carried live on the committee’s YouTube Channel.

Amtrak President William Flynn is expected to testify along with Jim Mathews, president of the Rail Passengers Association.

RPA and other rail passenger advocates have opposed the plan to reduce the frequency of service of long-distance trains and Mathews told the group’s members in an email message this week that his testimony will seek to show that daily operation of those trains is good for the U.S. economy.

In the meantime, a report posted on a railfan chat list showed an Amtrak document that has downward projections of ridership in federal fiscal year 2021, which begins Oct. 1.

Amtrak now expects ridership in the Northeast Corridor to be 34 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

The carrier projects that state-funded corridor ridership will be 41 percent of pre-pandemic levels and long-distance ridership will be 35 percent.

Amtrak said it will need $5 billion in operating support for the fiscal year and another $5 billion in capital funding for equipment purchases and debt service.

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