House committee approves passenger rail reform legislation

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unanimously approved bipartisan legislation last week that will improve the infrastructure, reduce costs, create greater accountability and transparency, and accelerate project delivery for Amtrak and the nation’s passenger rail transport system.

The Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015, or PRRIA (HR 749), was introduced by Chairman Bill Schuster (R-PA); Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR); Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Dunham (R-CA); and Subcommittee Ranking Member Michael Capuano (D-MA).

“This is a good reform bill that firmly moves passenger rail towards greater transparency and accountability, and forces Amtrak to operate like a true business,” Schuster said.

DeFazio says passenger rail investments will help boost local economies and create thousands of jobs.

According to the bill's authors, passenger rail presents one of the best transportation alternatives for relieving congestion on some of the nation’s most-crowded highways and busy airspace. They concur, however, that the rail system and Amtrak – the country’s intercity passenger rail provider – must be reformed and improved.

Existing law limits Amtrak's ability to partner with the private sector and holds back the development of the system, according to the authors who say this new bill will help tackle those problems.

In its meeting, the committee also approved 12 General Services Administration Capital Investment and Leasing Program resolutions that will result in $111 million in taxpayer savings.

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U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

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