House passes Passenger Rail Reform bill

The U.S. House passed a bill Wednesday to make improvements to Amtrak. | Contributed photo
The U.S. House passed the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015 (PRRIA) on Wednesday in an effort to improve the country's passenger rail system, including Amtrak.

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced the measure, along with co-sponsoring Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Jeff Denham (R-CA) and Michael Capuano  (R-MA).

“PRRIA brings significant and needed reforms to Amtrak,” Shuster said. “This bill will result in cutting waste, strengthening our infrastructure, and providing better, more cost-effective passenger rail service for our nation’s transportation system.”

The bill mandates steps to eliminate losses in the food and beverage service on Amtrak, improve transparency in bookkeeping and appropriate funds for Amtrak.

DeFazio said the bill “isn't perfect,” but it will improve the system and make the railways safer for riders.

“In every region of the country, passenger-rail investments boost local economies and create thousands of family-wage construction, engineering and manufacturing jobs,” DeFazio said. “I’m glad that we were able to pass this legislation in a bipartisan way.”

Denham said the legislation is a “step forward in making Amtrak more efficient and accountable.”

“The Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act will vastly improve commuter and passenger rail systems across the country, helping save American families time and money in transportation costs,” Denham said. “The bill’s widespread bipartisan support demonstrates the practicality of these reforms.”

Capuano said the bill would improve rail service throughout the country, and that by increasing the investment in  railways, it would create a better customer experience, better economic benefits and employment opportunities.

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