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Intercity Passenger Rail and Amtrak

On March 16, Mark Dayton, OIG Senior Economist, testified before the Senate Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee on Federal funding for Amtrak in FY 2007. He testified that in order to maintain the currently reconfigured system in a steady state of repair and after accounting for the reform efforts already underway, the FY 2007 appropriation for Amtrak would need to be about $1.4 billion. This includes $485 million for cash operating losses, $600 million for capital spending, and $295 million for debt service. The operating subsidy amount would continue the pressure on Amtrak for reform put in place by Congress last year, the capital amount would simply keep the system from falling into further disrepair, and the debt service amount is Amtrak’s fixed costs for repayment of principal and interest.

Mr. Dayton also cited previous OIG testimony that the current system needs to be fundamentally restructured and that any restructuring would require new authorizing language for Amtrak programs and funding support.