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S. 738 AMTRAK REFORM AND ACCOUNTABILITY ACT OF 1997

SUMMARY OF MAJOR PROVISIONS



Route System: Amtrak would be free to readjust its route system to meet customer demand.

Board of Directors: Current board to be replaced by March 31, 1998, by a new, 7- member reform board to be appointed by the President, in consultation with Congressional leadership. New board members are required to have expertise in transportation, or corporate or financial management. If a majority of new board members is not in place by July 1, 1998, all authorizations of appropriations after Fiscal Year 1998 expire. New Board has authority to recommend to Congress a plan to implement recommendations of the 1997 Working Group on Intercity Rail regarding the transfer of Amtrak's infrastructure assets and responsibilities to a new separately governed corporation.

Financial Reforms: Redeems Amtrak's non-voting common stock, now held primarily by freight railroads and the Department of Transportation. Allows a new reform board of directors a fresh start in capital structure and stock offerings, including a possible employee stock ownership plan. Cancels the DOT's voting rights and liquidation preference, giving Amtrak a free hand in entering into financial transactions.

Labor Protection: Calls for an accelerated bargaining process on the issue of previously mandated 6-year payment of post-employment salary and benefits. At the end of the bargaining process (180 days), Amtrak's statutory contract terms relating to this 6-year mandate would expire. At that point, if no new agreement is in place, labor and management could employ "self-help" measures under the Railway Labor Act. Clarifies that nothing in the Act will affect labor protection provisions that apply to freight rail and non-Amtrak transit workers.

Contracting Out : Repeals the current statutory ban on contracting out any work other than food and beverage service employees and inserts this ban into collective bargaining agreements. Negotiations on the issue of contracting out must commence by the date on which the next round of collective bargaining may begin, or November 1st, 1999, whichever is earlier. The parties may mutually agree to begin negotiations at any time.

Liability Reforms: Establishes a global cap of $200 million for the death or injury of a passenger, or damage to the property of passenger in passenger rail accidents and incidents. Requires Amtrak to maintain liability coverage for claims of at least $200 million.

Amtrak Reform Council: Establishes an independent commission, known as the Amtrak Reform Council, consisting of 11 members to be appointed by the President and the Congressional leadership. The Council is to evaluate Amtrak's performance and make recommendations to Amtrak for achieving further cost containment and productivity improvements and financial reforms. If, at any time more than 2 years after date of enactment, the Council finds that Amtrak will not meet its financial goals, or that Amtrak will require continued federal operating grants five years after the date of enactment, then it shall submit a plan to Congress for restructuring intercity passenger rail, and Amtrak shall submit a liquidation plan. If the restructuring plan has not been passed by the Congress within 90 days of its submission, the liquidation plan shall be considered in the Senate under expedited procedures.

Authorization of Appropriations : Authorizes appropriations totaling $5.2 Billion over 5 years for Amtrak operating, capital and Northeast Corridor Expenses.





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