House T&I Subcommittee Hearing on Amtrak and Intercity Passenger Rail Oversight


Stephen Gardner, Anthony Coscia, and Julie White offer testimony at a hearing on Amtrak and Intercity Passenger Rail Oversight.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials convened for a hearing on Amtrak and Intercity Passenger Rail Oversight: Promoting Performance, Safety, and Accountability June 12.

Stephen Gardner, chief executive officer, Amtrak; Anthony Coscia, chair, Amtrak; and Julie White, Deputy Secretary for Multimodal Transportation, NCDOT, and member of the APTA Board of Directors and co-chair of the APTA Commuter & Intercity Passenger Rail Legislative Subcommittee, provided witness testimonies.

The witnesses noted that they were working on complying with the new rules laid out in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) related to transparency and welcome more community involvement.

“We have experienced zero NTSB reportable accidents in Fiscal Year 2024, and currently have no open NTSB accident investigations,” said Gardner. “We are sustaining the huge [20 percent] decrease in employee injuries we achieved last year and are within striking distance of meeting our aggressive goal for further reduction”

Regarding financial performance, Gardner noted that ridership “during the first seven months of Fiscal Year 2024 was 20 percent higher, and our ticket revenue 10 percent higher than during the same period last year. Of even greater significance, our fiscal-year-to-date ridership is higher than during the same period in Fiscal Year 2019.”

“A key element of an expanded national intercity network is the development of high-speed rail corridors. Amtrak strongly believes that the United States can support dedicated, high-speed intercity corridors in select markets,” said Gardner. “I cannot emphasize enough the importance of adequate annual appropriations. They are essential to the continued operation of both our long-distance routes and our state-supported routes and are Amtrak’s only source of funding for many vital capital projects.”

In reinforcing the importance of intercity passenger rail corridors, Coscia said: “Due to the federal investment in passenger rail in the Northeast Corridor, someone traveling from Washington to Northern New Jersey doesn’t have to spend hours in traffic or make their way to the airport to line up for security. Instead, they can hop on an Amtrak train at Washington Union Station, work without interruption, and in less than three hours be dropped off 200 miles away near their homes. I believe those who live elsewhere in the United States should have the option of traveling by train as well.”

Coscia urged members of Congress, as they look toward reauthorization of surface transportation, to “decide that intercity passenger rail service should be an important mode in our transportation system throughout the United States and will provide the resources to allow Amtrak and its partners to make that vision a reality.”

White described how rail boosts communities. “We recognize the power of rail to connect our states and local communities and understand that consistent rail infrastructure investments create economic growth and opportunity. A recent study of North Carolina’s passenger and freight rail system identified over $20 billion in economic activity annually, supporting over 88,000 jobs.”

She also pressed on the imperative of adequate funding. “Rail is the only mode that does not enjoy formulaic federal funding, meaning projects often languish on shelves awaiting the right competitive federal grant opportunity to apply for, resulting in decades’ long waits for new service and expired environmental documents,” she said.

View a recording of the hearing here. Read the witness testimonies in full here.