Rep. Payne, Jr. Introduces Bill to Speed Up Amtrak’s Passenger Service
Washington, D.C. — Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr., Chairman of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials, introduced a bill today to help Amtrak get passengers to destinations faster. The bill, the Rail Passenger Fairness Act, would allow Amtrak to sue freight railroads who violate federal law and allow freight trains to use railroad lines and crossings ahead of passenger trains.
“When freight trains are given priority over passenger trains, it delays the arrival of millions of Americans who use Amtrak daily,” said Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. “Freight rail carriers need to follow the law and give Amtrak priority on our nation’s railroad network. I am proud to introduce this bill because it will improve Amtrak’s performance, get people to their locations faster, and save American taxpayers millions of dollars.”
Amtrak’s loss of railroad preference means a significant number of passenger trains fail to get to their destinations on time. In 2019, more than 70 percent of the 6.5 million Amtrak passengers suffered travel delays due to freight train interference. Such delays cost taxpayers millions of dollars annually. A five-percent improvement in on-time performance would save $12.1 million in the first year alone, according the Amtrak’s Office of Inspector General. If Amtrak could increase on-time performance to 75 percent, it would save almost $42 million in operating costs and $336 million from a reduced need to replace equipment. A companion bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL).