Langevin Urges Congressional Appropriators to Fund Amtrak

Jun 25, 2002
(Washington, D.C.)–Congressman Jim Langevin today announced that he has joined his colleagues in urging Congressional appropriators to immediately include $200 million in the FY02 Supplemental Appropriations bill to ensure that Amtrak can continue running on schedule.  Amtrak, with stops in Rhode Island, serves a critical link between Washington, D.C., New York, Boston, and the entire New England area.

 Last week, Amtrak CEO David Gunn announced that Amtrak would cease operations nationwide if Congress or the Administration did not approve additional funding.

 “Approximately 50,000 Rhode Islanders travel on Amtrak each week for both work and pleasure,” said Congressman Langevin.  “If the nation’s sole passenger rail service were to shut down, thousands of Americans would be forced to drive to work, creating additional rush hour havoc on our already congested highways.  
 "Just as importantly,” continued Langevin, "we must not allow our nation's railway workers to see their livelihoods jeopardized.  Amtrak employees have provided great service to this country, and we owe them a firm commitment to resolve this crisis as quickly as possible and ensure the future viability of Amtrak."

The letter signed by Langevin and his colleagues emphasizes that Amtrak's financial difficulty is not of its own making.  The crisis it faces is due to several factors, including the fact that Amtrak's auditor, KPMG, has not been able to classify Amtrak as a "going concern," thereby preventing the access Amtrak would ordinarily have to private capital markets.  KPMG's reluctance to issue a "going concern" finding is due in large part to the uncertainty surrounding Amtrak's future

Amtrak’s financial problems continued to grow when the Administration allocated just $521 million for Amtrak in its budget --  far short of the $1.2 billion Amtrak stated as the minimum needed to operate the national route system.