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as of DECEMBER 2, 1997.

President Clinton Signs Amtrak Reauthorization Bill Today Giving the Railroad Access to Needed Capital Funds

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 /AP/ -- Amtrak President, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Thomas M. Downs issued the following statement after President Clinton signed into law Amtrak's reauthorization bill.

"President Clinton's signature today on the Amtrak reauthorization bill marks the culmination of a successful bipartisan effort to secure America's passenger railroad. More importantly, it signifies the beginning of the rebirth of Amtrak. Just last month Congress reaffirmed its support for intercity passenger rail by passing landmark legislation. On this day, President Clinton has strongly restated his position in favor of a balanced, environmentally friendly and more efficient national transportation system that includes Amtrak, its 23,000 employees and the more than 65 million customers of the railroad.

"This reauthorization will give Amtrak something it has never had, the ability to plan for the future. Amtrak will now be eligible to receive more than two billion dollars in capital investment funds to supplement annual capital appropriations from Congress. With these funds and adequate annual operating and capital appropriations, Amtrak will begin to reverse 26 years of undercapitalization which will help improve productivity, lower expenses, increase revenues and spur continued ridership growth.

"Congress and the President have challenged Amtrak to gradually end dependence on federal operating support by 2002. Amtrak has picked up the gauntlet and today is in better shape than ever to meet that challenge. Access to more than $2 billion in capital investment funds is a significant step toward achieving this goal. Next year even more can be accomplished with federal operating and capital appropriations that fully fund Amtrak's Strategic Business Plan to operating self-sufficiency. Amtrak looks forward to working with the Administration and the Congress to make this a reality and to make America's passenger railroad a continued success."

Clinton Signs $2.3B Amtrak Bill


WASHINGTON -Dec.2nd / 5PM(AP) - President Clinton signed into law Tuesday a $2.3-billion rescue package that gives the financially crippled Amtrak new leeway to manage itself more competitively.

Amtrak will no longer be shackled," Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater said outside the White House. Where Congress once mandated route selections for the federally subsidized railway, he said, "Amtrak will be able now to make decisions based on the needs of its customers."

The legislation, passed last month by the House and Senate after weeks of intense wrangling, was propelled by the threat of a national Amtrak strike earlier this fall.

"Everyone, when faced with the possibility there would not be an Amtrak, realized there had to be one. And that's why we have this bill today and Amtrak has a future," said Rep. Bob Wise, D-W.Va.

The legislation provides $3.4 billion for regular Amtrak operating and capital expenses through 2000 and dictates changes in Amtrak management practices, labor rules and legal liabilities designed to make the railway more competitive. After 2000, the railway will also be able to contract out more work than is now allowed.

As a bonus, Clinton's signature on the bill Tuesday released $2.3 billion for capital investments such as new cars and track improvements.

Amtrak must renew its line of credit with banks this month. Without the backing of the rescue package, it was uncertain whether banks would extend the railway the money it needs to stave off bankruptcy.

(Copyright permission pending)


Last Updated 12/03/97 11:15 hrs. EST


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