TRENTON – U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) slammed a House Republican plan today to privatize the Northeast Corridor and dismantle the federally funded Amtrak.
Lautenberg leveled his criticism after Rep. John Mica (R-FL), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, proposed legislation calling for Amtrak’s end.
Mica wants to open up for bidding by private companies Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston.
He said this approach would spur private investment that would improve service and reduce subsidies.
But Lautenberg is opposed to that proposal. “The House proposal would take our nation’s rail system off the tracks,” Lautenberg said in a release. “The Republican proposal to privatize rail on the Northeast Corridor would increase costs for passengers and make rail travel less reliable. I will fight in the Senate to stop any plan that threatens Amtrak and commuters on the Northeast Corridor.”
Last month, Lautenberg opposed the privatization of the Northeast Corridor in testimony before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. During his testimony, Lautenberg said, “Amtrak makes our region work—and we must invest in this critical asset. A stronger national rail service will be good for our national security and the environment because it will help our country kick its dangerous oil addiction. But let me be clear: privatizing the Northeast Corridor is not a smart or viable way to meet these challenges.”
Lautenberg wrote the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act, which was enacted in 2008, to reauthorize and improve Amtrak.
The law created a high-speed rail grants program, made critical investments in the Northeast Corridor and required Amtrak to work with the states and the federal government to bring the Corridor into a state of good repair, according to Lautenberg’s office.