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tv   Transit Officials Testify on Expanding Passenger Rail  CSPAN  December 10, 2021 2:58am-5:38am EST

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rail service and infrastructure investments. this is live coverage on cspan3. >> as reminder please keep your
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microphones muted unless speaking. should i hear any inadvertent background noise i will request that the member please mute their microphones. to insert a document into the record, please have your staff e-mail it to documentsti so good morning. three weeks ago president biden signed the most consequential infrastructure bill of the 21st century into law. the $1.2 trillion infrastructure investment and jobs act will modernize america's decaying infrastructure while making the biggest investment in inner city passenger rail since the creation of amtrak.
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the iija is a culmination of the work that lang with chairman defuse owe i started with the investment in america actazio i investment in america act. i would like to take this moment to recognize chairman defazio. he's been a champion for advancing the state transportation in america and making meaningful efforts to address climate change. i am proud to have accomplished many great things with him and privilege of chairing this subcommittee. chairman defazio will be sorely missed and wish him and his family well in their next chapter.
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the iija contains 35 billion in authorized funds for inner city passenger rail and freight rail grants programs, as well as amtrak. it also contains an historic $66 billion in reliable investments for our national rail system. roughly the amount congress has appropriated to amtrak since we created the railroads 50 years ago. of the appropriated amounts, amtrak will receive $22 billion in dedicated funding, which will enable it to address its significant maintenance backlog across all three of its services. the northeast corridor, state-supported services, and long-distance trains that connect rural areas to urban centers. in the next few years i expect
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we will see new and improved accessible stations, rolling stock and associated maintenance facilities. another $44 billion is made available for competitive grant programs to create new or expand or improve inner city passenger rail corridors across the country. and it jump starts previous service and eliminates and improves highway railroad grade crossings and improve the safety, efficiency and reliable in freight rail in inner city passenger networks. this is truly a once in a generation investment that will change the course of rail -- inner city passenger rail transportation in america. and it is an honor to be chairman of this sub committee
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at this extraordinary moment. we will hear from amtrak today about its "connect us" plan which proposes to partner with states across the use to improve existing or add new state-supported service routes that could add tens of millions of riders annually, creating new travel opportunities while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. and today's other witnesses representing various states, agencies and regions will talk about their proposals for leveraging these funds to carry out their plans for growing passenger rail. in my region of the country. one o of the most consequential projects in investments in iija can address is the gateway program.
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along the nation's busiest rail corridor, the northeast corridor. chief among the gateway programs is the rehabilitation and replays of the the rail tunnels that run under the hudson river connecting new jersey with new york city. the tunnel is 111 years old, and it is in advanced state of decay. due to its age and the damage sustained during super storm sandy. if the tunnel were to shut down for any reason, it would cost this economy $100 million per day in lost economic output. throughout my time in congress, i've been a vocal advocate for the need to repair the existing tunnel and build a new one to keep trains running and allow
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for additional capacity. i am proud that the iija provides funding that could be used to finally complete the project. i am also grateful to the biden administration and secretary buttegieg for their supportive efforts to do so. in addition to the gateway program, iija will facilitate other critical important inner city passenger rail projects in the country. these investments will create good jobs, open a path for many to choose a career in the railroad industry, and i will fight to ensure that the quality of the jobs are available to all americans and that everyone has a fair shot at obtaining work created by -- from these investments. i was particularly pleased that mr. corbett, secretary kim and
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mr. gardner addressed these issues head on in their testimony. i continue to urge all our federal grant recipients of this importance. i thank the witnesses for being here today. and i look forward to their testimony. i ask unanimous consent that statements from association of american railroads, rail passenger association and the states for passenger rail coalition will entered into the record. without objection so ordered. i now call on the ranking member of the subcommittee, mr. crawford for an opening statement. >> thank you mr. chairman for holding this hearing and thank you for the witnesses participating. today's hearing will examine how amtrak should spend the record amounts of federal funding in the infrastructure bill signed into law last month.
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$66 billions in next five years with most going to amtrak. address issue with existing systems for maintenance and safety upgrades. amtrak also must recover from historic losses last year that led to receiving millions in federal bail out money to keep it operating despite record low ridership. amtrak must use this responsibly in way that attracts riders and makes a profit. more over amtrak works with strengthen relationships with the states. finally any potential expansion of amtrak system must include the full input of the freight railroads on capacity and track-sharing issues. ongoing supply chain emphasizes further efficiently moving goods across the nation. i commend the chair for holding this hearing today and i yield back the balance of my time.
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. >> thank you. now call on, recognize mr. defazio. the chairman of the full committee. >> thank you mr. chairman. thank you for the hearing. thanks for the kind words. you will have to put up with me for another 12 months or so. but those were very kine words. during the entirety of my long congressional career, 35 years, inner city rail has had funding starts and stops, you know, threats to be disbanded, endured the whims of our annual appropriation process. railroad, shall we say in terms of being able to strategically plan for the investments you need to improve service to provide additional
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service, to acquire new power and new train sets. the -- someone isn't muted out there mr. chairman. >> yes. can you please mute your lines, thank you. members please muts. . >> okay. don't know what was going on there. in any ways, you know, the enactment of passenger rail improvement act in '08 began to provide a little more certainty but, you know, the states anticipate ad federal partner of about $90 million a year. but then the number shot up to 8 billion with the bank of the american recovery reinvestment
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act and additional 2 1/2 billion the following year and dropped off again and climbed up again during the fast act when congress authorized hundreds of millions more. but that has caused, you know, amtrak to limp along with, again, not being capable to look at reasonably expanding service and then look at plans to rebuild the network and to repower -- though they are in the process of acquiring new power and train sets. so the infrastructure investment jobs act is revolutionary in my very long tenure in congress, 35 years, in that there is guaranteed and robust funding for the next five years. $66 billion in appropriated reliable funds, and another $35 billion in authorizations, which, you know, will not necessarily be easy, but the authorization is there.
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the appropriated funds in this bill are six times the amount we did under the fast act. and the fast act was pretty good for rail, comparing to what we've been doing. and, you know, this will -- you know, this will be way, way bigger. and it provides competitive grant funding for states, to development new and expanded corridors. creates inventories of projects in the northeast corridor for major infrastructure investments, bridges, stations, tunnels. don mentioned 111 year old tunnel. well, the tunnel under baltimore is 149 years old, and if you go through in the viewing car, you can see that it is raining inde. because of the leaking water mains and its brick. how long's that mortar going to hold? if we had great engineers in the
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time but if that tunnel goes down it will be disastrous for freight and passenger movement in the northeast united states. and the cost and time to built an alternate under the river or there far, far exceed the cost of making the investment and getting ahead of the problem. so, you know, these are investments that we should be making. and, you know, i also supported the idea of amtrak doing additional investments in inner city passenger rail. particularly looking at city pairs, where they could, you know, used to be everybody took the shuttle to new york from here. now a vast number of people prefer to take the train. and that's just one city payer route. there are many others around the country. somewhat longer than that, where you can divert people from the
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highways, where you can divert people from the inconvenience of commuter air by the time you go to airport, go through security, get on a plane, get delayed, get off the plane, get, you know, wherever you are going from the airport. so i think there is tremendous potential there, both to deal with greenhouse gas reduction, congestion and quality of life for the american people. you know, we had great testimony earlier this year from the virginia secretary of state. i don't know if it will change now republicans have taken over, maybe they will go back to doing things the old way which doesn't work. there were plans to build two more lanes on 95, take about 10 years, cost $12 billion and the projections were when they finished it, it would be as congested as it is today. it is called induced demand. build it and they will come. they came to a novel agreement with csx to provide a new rail
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route, essentially, or partially new rail route with a new rail bridge over the river here in d.c. for a lesser cost, and it is going to be able to, you know, ameliorate the commute time of, you know, many, many, many people and move them much more fuel efficiently. hopefully that will stick. i tried to in the invest act say that before building major highway projects, states and cities had to look at whether or not rail transit alternatives could solve the problems better. unfortunately that was a stripped out by the senate. they considered, you know, considering anything other than building more highways to be problematic. but it doesn't work. you know, i had a number as we do in the bill, i can't remember how many tens of thousands of miles that were built in our inner cities in the last 30 years, and they are more
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congested than ever. we've got to look at these sort of viable alternatives. but the other key thing we're going to need like happened in the case with virginia is cooperation with the freights. you know, we -- you know, we're -- we have the greatest freight network in the world. and we don't want to jeopardize that. it's the second most efficient way to move cargo after water. so we want to move -- you know, we want to encourage it. and but -- but the point is, you know, the law is pretty clear. preference over freight transportation, except in an emergency, inner city and commuter rail passenger transportation provide forward amtrak has preference over freight, transportation and using the rail line junction crossing unless the board orders otherwise under this subsection. well, obviously that has not been observed. and that is of concern. as the trains get longer and
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lodger. you know, i got chrissy funds to help build the signs to move trains efficiently between eugene and portland, oregon. takes about three hours, it is 110 miles. and now the train, the length of the trains that are going run are going to be too long for the signing. you know, there is going to be some compromise here that can both better utilize the rights of way or utilize reserve rights of way that the railroads aren't using now. somehow something that's mutually beneficial, as it was for csx in virginia because they got access to new rail bridge and the other rail bridge is at 99%. i think there are places around the country where that could happen. and i'm hoping that this amount of funding and a new attitude on the part of freight to sit down and actually talk will move us in that direction. so i look forward to hearing about the plans for the witnesses and the hearing today. thank you mr. chairman.
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>> thank you and once again i want to say i wish you well. you have been true leadership for me and this committee. thank you. i would now like to welcome our witnesses. mr. steven gardner, president of amtrak and at this point in time i'd like to yield to the gentlelady from california to introduce our next witness. >> thank you mr. chair. gives me great pleasure and i'm honored to introduce david kim, secretary of california transportation agency. many colleagues are familiar with mr. kim's distinguished career, having worked for the federal highway administration, the governor of california, the mayor of los angeles, and our former colleague. mr. kim has been transformative leader of our strait's transportation agency working
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for hard for local communities to reduce congestion, improve freight movement and provide for cleaner transition system. and by the way, mention he's been very accessible to me. thank you for your work on behalf of our state and your testimony today. thank you mr. chairman, yield back. >> thank you. next witness is mr. corbett, president of ceo of the new jersey transit and co-chair of the northeast corridor commission and here on blafl of the northeast corridor commission. and then ms. julie white. deputy secretary of mobile transportation north carolina. and department transportation and mission chair of the southern corridor commission.
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next, we have mr. donna diortino managing director, los angeles, san diego and san luis obispo rail corridor agency. and mr. knox ross, mississippi and chair of the southern rail commission. thank you all for joining us today and i look forward to your testimony. without objection our witnesses full statements will be included in the record. since your written testimony has been made part of the record, subcommittee requests you would limit your oral testimony to five minutes. mr. gardner, you may proceed. >> good morning, chairman defazio, chairman payne, ranking member crawford, members of the subcommittee and my fellow bnss.
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i'm amtrak president stephen gardner, and thank you for inviting me to testify today. let me begin by acknowledging chairman defazio for his year of public service and thanking him for being a huge --. thank you mr. chairman, we'll sorely miss your leadership as you leave congress. for the past 50 years, amtrak has described to congress how inner city passenger rail could substantially benefit the nation, if it only received the adequate and reliable funding it needed like other modes. today i'd like to say something different. thank you. thank you for helping to enact this law and create a new era of rail mobility that can support our nation's economic and environmental goals. with the $66 billion provided to the federal railroad administration and amtrak, we and our partners can finally have the chance to renew, improve or replace antiquated assets like the century old
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bridges and tunnels in the northeast, inaccessible i stations around the nation and vintage trains. advancing long stalled projects like the gateway program. replacement of legacy fleets that serve states like north carolina and california. and investing in core i.t. and maintenance facilities that support the whole network will finally be possible. in addition to modernizing our assets the bipartisan infrastructure law also creates a process for the fra to identify and provide grants to enhance inner kri corridor routes across the nation. with strong state rail planning in place and amtrak's own nationwide vision of corridor expansion released earlier this year, there are many great opportunities for the fra to consider. i would note reintroduction of gulf coast service, development of california's coach la valley service and activation of raleigh to petersburg s line raoults as prime examples. amtrak looks forward to
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partnering with the states, host railroads and others to bring more inner city service to more people across america. we know that critical to the success of this is the update of the section 209 cost sharing policy required by the new law. we understand that states need more predictability and control of their cost structure under this policy and we're committed to work with our partners to update this paradigm for the new era. additionally, we'll continue to work collaborative will with our partners where they see values in working with other parties to deliver parts of their service. and with new railroad entities that aim to develop or tlifr their own service. we simply ask key railroad laws apply to new entrants, that the federal government gets equity and accountable for investments it makes in systems and any new networks make connections with amtrak's national network. there are some challenges we and our partners will have to face
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in the coming years. i'd like to highlight a few today. first while getting ready to launch this new era, we must continue to survive the pandemic. we've now just achieved about 70% of our historic ridership and restores most services but the omicron variant demonstrates the pandemic is far from over and we must continue to drive the health and safety measures needed to protect passengers and employees. the critical component of those measures is our employee vaccine mandate. as we implement this requirement we're hopeful that many of the roughly 5% of our workforce yet to get vaccinated will do so by our deadline of january 4th, which aligns with the federal contractor mandate. in case that doesn't occur however, we anticipate proactively needed to temporarily reduce some train frequencies across the network in january to avoid staffing-related cancellations. with our plan to fully restore all frequencies by march or as soon as we have qualified employees available. we'll keep the subcommittee
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apprized as we learn more about employee compliance over the next week. further, in order to effectively implement the structure -- the infrastructure bill, we and our partners will need to significantly grow and prodden our workforce and supplier base our workforce and supplier base. we're anxious to work with partners and others to develop new employees and build networks we serve. and network investment, we're also concerned that the current framework could restrict the states and amtrak's ability to quickly advance projects that are ready to go now. we look forward to work through these challenges. i will end my are remarks by once again saying thank you to the mes of the subcommittee and you chairman payne with the funds provided by the infrastructure bill and your support moving forward, amtrak and our state and commuter partners' vision for a modern passenger rail network can finally become reality. while amtrak will still require
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annual appropriations to fund our basic operations and capital expense, the funds dedicated to address the deferred backlog and support network growth in this bill will forever change the course of our industry. thank you for your time. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you mr. gardner. and it looks like we're finally getting to a point where amtrak will finally receive the dollars that it was promised fifty years ago. and i've been a advocate reiterating that over my time here in congress. and it looks like we finally made it. so i look forward to the new prospects for amtrak. next we will hear from mr. kim. you have five minutes, sir. . >> good morning, chairman defazio, chairman payne, ranking member crawford and members of the subcommittee. thank you for the invitation to
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testify. and congressman neept know thank you so much for the kind introduction, and it is great to see you. and thanks to all members of the committee for your leadership in securing package of the infrastructure investment and jobs act which as previously noted provides record level of federal investment for inner city rail. first point at the outset is california's sustainable transportation strategy is based largely on reducing vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions by shifting passenger transportation from highways to rail. we're also aggressively supporting the development of clean, zero emission technologies, the iija will support climate-friendly policies, california has led the nation in developing. these policies are the driving force behind the 2018 california state rail plan, which establishes a long-term vision for prioritizing state rail investment. just by way of background, california's passenger rail
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system includes amtrak, national network long distance routes, as well as state-supported inner p with locally supported commuter and urban rail services. amtrak long distance routes include the california zephyr, coast starlet. and southwest chief. we greatly value these services which connect many of california's communities to the state and nation. meanwhile state supported routes. parveg surf liner. san what keys and capital corridor. i want to point out california funds and use most of the equipment on the inner city rail routes. california greatly appreciates the $16 billion in the iija for amtrak's national network which
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can be used to upgrade california amtrak and other facilities. and amtrak has also expressed desire to conduct corridor development with the l.a., phoenix, tucson route. and expanding service into the coach la valley as a supporting project to the broader goal of increasing rail service between california and arizona. we also appreciate the significant expansion and rerm of the federal state partnership for inner city passenger rail program. the new law provides 36 billion with at least 12 billion available for projects outside the northeast corridor. this will boost california state funding programs which are investing heavily in corridor expansion to operate more frequent service and extend our corridors. i want to emphasize that federal rail funding provided to california is not just an
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investment. as the partnership. federal funding supports significant state, local and private rail investments that are already being made throughout the state. as noted in the state rail plan, $20 billion for california rail project is needed through 2027 and 119 billion through 2040. we have already delivered more than $4.7 billion since 2014 for projects benefitting inner city rail but only --. wide variety of programs. local sales tax measures. state rail assistance program by california and other competitive programs. a few weeks ago my agency issue ad call for project for the up come gd round of grants from the transit and inner city rail capital program tircp. this program funds rail and transit capital projects that reduce emissions, vmt and
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congestion. since 2015 we have awarded 5.8 billion with a total value of over 26 billion. we are also leading the nation in transitions from zero emission inner city rail by 2035. the state budget includes $3.9 billion to accelerate the zero emission vehicle goals, and already -- renewable diesel to the entire fleet and also zero emission train sets using hydrogen fuel cells and electric batteries. i also want to point out that we are also advancing sustainability goals by supporting privately financed and developed electric high speed rail. bright line west is planning a high speed system connecting las vegas with rancho cucamonga and palmdale. last year exercised cal trans to enter into a lease agreement allowing along interstate 15 for
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high speed rail service. finally mr. chairman and ranking member. construction on the nation's first truly high-speed rail project continues to show steady progress. the california high-speed rail authority is advancing construction in the central valley. extending in bakersfield and completing environmental work for the entire 500 mile system. today in the central valley there are 35 different work sites along the 119 miles of construction. more than 6,000 jobs have been created. 635 small businesss working on the project. >> please wrap it up. thank you. >> yes. so in closing we are excited about the future of passenger rail in california and prospect of expanding service throughout the state. thanks to the iija. thank you again and i look forward to working with the subcommittee and administration committee transformative investments that will deliver the next generation of american inner city passenger rail. >> thank you. the witness's time has expired. i will next here from mr.
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corbett for five minutes. >> thank you, good morning chairman payne. as always a pleasure to be with you. and thank you to vice chair strickland, ranking member crawford and members of the committee for inviting me to discuss the significance of president biden's infrastructure investment and jobs act especially as it relates toed critical infrastructure along the northeast corridor between washington, d.c. and bostonem. i serve president and ceo of new jersey transit but today as co-chair of the northeast corridor commission where i serve alongside my fellow co-chair ameet bose and my good friend and colleague stephen gardner vice president of the commission, president of amtrak. almost impossible to overstate the importance of this stretch of transportation structure. not only memos of commuters and inner city rail customers but to the national economy. every year provides more than 24 million jobs and produces about
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20% of the nation's gdp. this historic investment provides a sizable down payment to allow the commissioned members to rebuild and modernize the northeast corridor to provide better, faster, more frequent and more reliable service to the millions of commuters and inner city travelers who depend on it every year. and to be clear, the northeast corridor commission representing each of the nine nec states as well as district columbia, amtrak and u.s. department of transportation is ready to put these investments to work. this summer is commission unanimously took a significant step forward towards this goal through the launch of innovative new plan to connect nec 2035 known as c35. this is our road map for how this generation for rail should be invested. c35 establishes a detailed and efficient sequencing of
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infrastructure investments coming over 150 projects along with a comprehensive renewal program, including track, signal and power systems. the total cost of c35 is currently estimated to be approximately $117 billion over 15 years. with $100 billion funding guide. the infrastructure bill provides a significant down payment that will leverage progress on this imperative work up and down the corridor. c35 won't simply rebuild the existing northeast corridor. it will build back better with investments that translate to faster more frequent and more reliable commuter and inner city rail service. c35 will allow for the number of daily nec amtrak trains to grow by a third and allow us to do new jersey transit to more than double our peak hour service. travel time will be nearly 30 minutes shorter for riders from washington to new york, and new york to boston. in my written testimony i have submitted to the committee i highlighted the hudson river tunl and number of other
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projects nj transit is supporting as relates to c35 so in the interest of time i won't list them now. fair to say no one knows more painfully than new jersey about the far reaching negative impact that prolonged disinvestment can have on a transit system. similarly, over the past four years, president biden's historic investment will do the same for the nation's transportation network including the entire northeast corridor. beyond new jersey transit. >> projects up and down up and down the northeast corridor will benefit from this new federal funding. example as touched upon the baltimore potomac tunnel. that is amtrak's oldest tunnel and touched upon a aging components that require constant monitoring and maintenance, representing significant single point of failure that could sever service between washington and new york. capacity will triple and instead of 30 miles per hour, trains will reach over 100 miles per
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hour in the new tunnel. connecticut another example, amtrak and its partners dot working to replace the bridge which carries amtrak and shoreline east. the closing of a 114 bridge over three times a year as high demand on aging components has increasing cost and reduces rail and marine traffic. full replacement of existing bridges will increase reliability and allow for increased speeds. all these projects and many more are expected to create 1.8 million jobs over the 15-year plan and generate billions of economic activity. what we also seize on this opportunity to maximize the contracting opportunities for disadvantaged business enterprises. mr. chairman, the nec commission is wholly committed to goal and policy states all members share the participation of dves and
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similar entities. nearly 22% as a goal and as co-chair of the nec i want to say sure you the prioritizing of contract opportunities for investment. we must be clear eyed and realistic about the road in front of us. nec ages including transit will need time to build capacity and advance pipeline and deliver projects including detailed planning and engineering required. >> please wrap up. >> sure, we will certainly work with our partners in labor in the private sector to hire and train the significant new workforce. to wrap up i want to thank president biden for his commitment to investoring in the nation's critical infrastructure. particularly in the northeast corridor and the entire delegation for their leadership and support. and lastly chair defazio as well for his tremendous support bringing us to this point and certainly look forward to working withing him more the rest of the year.
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so again, thank you chairman payne. vice chair strickland and member crawford for your time today. >> thank you. the witness's time is expired. we will next hear from ms. white for five minutes. >> good morning and thank you, chairman defazio, chairman payne, ranking member crawford and members of the subcommittee for holding this hearing to discuss passenger rail as an integral part of our national transportation system. my name is julie white. i'm deputy secretary for multi modal transportation for the north carolina department of transportation with oefrs of rail, aviation, ferry, public transit, bicycle and pedestrian divisions. i've also chair of the southeast corridor commission, a regional partnership of north carolina, washington, d.c., virginia, south carolina, tennessee, georgia and florida.
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the. the commission is charged with developing the southeast regional rail plan, reporting on the economic benefits of rail along the corridor, creating an implementation plan and prioritizing major projects. the goal of this effort is to improve the mutual cooperation and planning between states and stakeholders to position the r funding. our states work together to advance our shared vision for high performance rail throughout the southeast. because we have a shared understanding of the power of rail to connect our states and our communities. and equally important, we know that rail infrastructure investments create economic growth and opportunity. the commission is now looking to the infrastructure investment and jobs act to provide the federal funding needed to continue our work together and to advance our plans to construction as well as initial operating support. north carolina and virginia, with the support of the fra, amtrak and our freight rail
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partners have a long history of partnership to advance development of the s-line from raleigh to richmond. the s-line highlighted in yellow is the key connection from the northeast to the southeast. and the blue line to the right is csx's main freight line. therefore advancing passenger rail on the s-line rather than the freight line ensures freight traffic is not impeded by passenger growth. this is a key example of the way we work to identify win-win opportunities that benefit both freight and passenger rail. the planning for this corridor dates back decades and has progressed through federal and state investment. north carolina and virginia have already completed the necessary environmental work for the entire raleigh to richmond corridor. and we are working towards detailed design. this step will pave the way for construction, including all new track and signal systems and
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safety projects that will have immediate benefits through roadway crossing grate separations and closures. virginia has required the s-line within their state and north carolina through an fra grant is actively working with csx, our strong partner, to acquire the corridor in our state. the s-line will be dropped as a high-performance passenger rail line that will improve rail travel times by over an hour, connect rural and urban communities and offer freight benefits by not growing passenger rail on high-volume freight lines. we are jointly working to determine how to advance this critical link on the eastern seabed through the iija. we have designed incremental development bases large and small to be ready to use federal dollars to construct and implement new passenger rail service. we're also examining how we can improve project delivery to get the line into service faster. often it takes too long to build
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infrastructure and innovative project delivery is a must. the north carolina dot has a robust engagement process with our dve partners and are working with our office of civil rights to host webinars focused on the infrastructure bill and how small minority-owned firms can be prepared and ready to take advantage of the resulting construction that will come. one we had yesterday was very well-attended. and we look forward to doing more in the future. what i hope you take away from my testimony today is that the southeast corridor commission and the state of north carolina are committed to continuing our strong partnership with congress, the fra, the freight railroads, amtrak and others to expand passenger and freight rail in the southeast. the iija is a historic opportunity to build upon our joint work to date, connect urban and rural commutes and provide residents with additional opportunity in the economy. we thank congress for the bold
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action and iija level of investment in rail and we stand ready with our partners to expand our nation's high performance passenger rail systems. thank you very much for the opportunity to address the committee. >> thank you very much. and now we will hear from ms. dimartina. >> yes. good morning. my name is donna demartino. i'm managing director of the lossan rail corridor agency. honor to testify before you today. we look forward to work together in plan, implement and fund inner city supported passenger rail services. the historic iija will be an important part of our future. i would like to mention the other two california state-supported inner city passenger rail agencies, the
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capital corridor and the san walk-ins. we're proud our three services all rank in the top 6 amtrak state-supported ride irship. the agency is a joint authority comprised of rail owners operators and agencies along the corridor. we empower local stakeholders, taxpayers and communities with greater control and oversight of inner city passenger rail services. the surf liner provides service between san diego, los angeles and san luis obispo, and is the highest ridership state-supported service in the united states. pre pacific surf liner carried over 2.75 million passengers and the corridor ranked as the second busiest corridor in the united states. our operations are funded by the state of california and we make payments to amtrak, the operator of our services, as governed by section 209 cost formula. we're very proud of our
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outstanding fare box recovery rate of over 75% but we still receive nearly $35 million in operating support from the state of california. most of the -- many of the most prominent corridors and routes mentioned for potential expansion or return to service are under 750 miles which means they would also be state-supported services. as the successful state-supported route, i would like to share some recommendations and lessons learned. states must prioritize and build relationships with railroad stakeholders, particularly freight railroads and railway labor. sustained state and local political support is essential to growing inner city passenger rail services. comprehensive long range planning is important to ensure the sustainability of our operations, transparent and traceable cost information is necessary to inform investment and operating decisions. and finally, ensuring state services remain innovative and nimble to help with cost
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containment and positive passenger services. the surf liner operates over one of the busiest and complex rail corridors in the country. it hosts up to 220 commuter, freight, and inner city trains per day. it hosts union pacific freight trains and metrolink and coastal commuter trains. we take pride in our planning efforts with our partners. we recently completed the optimization study that will maximize our passenger rail service potential in advance of the 2028 olympic games to be held in los angeles. bnsf's study played an integral part in helping to inform our current and future service enhancements and operations as a part of this study. in addition to the close operational coordination we work closely with our partners. while we enjoy a strong relationship with our host railroads, these relationships
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take time to develop. i recommend we plan sooner rather than later. sustained state and local political support is essential to growing inner city rail services. we are proud and grateful for california's tremendous investments in inner city passenger rail service. since 2015, the state has invested over $4 billion in improving passenger rail infrastructure and rolling stock, guided by our comprehensive 2018 state rail plan. given our state's continued operating subsidies and capital commitments we need clear cost information to inform our investment and operating decisions. unfortunately we have found the current state amtrak cost formula to be complicated, opaque, and not necessarily tied to services we receive. costs can increase in ways that are not intuitive or easily explained. however, we are hopeful that the reforms in the iija and the reformed model update will yield tangible results and provide more transparent cost and accounting information. we look forward to working with
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amtrak and this committee during the process. state supported routes have the flexibility to provide innovative passenger rail experiences and services to the services we receive. ensuring states maintain the ability to be nimble will enhance service and innovation across passenger rail services. i appreciate the opportunity to join you this morning and i'm happy to answer any questions. thank you. >> thank you to the witness. next we have mr. ross for five minutes. >> good morning. i'm knox ross, chairman of the southern rail commission. thank you, chairman defazio, chairman payne, ranking member crawford and the members of the committee for allowing me to testify today. i want to simply say thank you because we've waited for over 50 years for long term funding in support of robust passenger rail systems and now we have it through the bipartisan infrastructure law. this committee and its corresponding senate committee
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have delivered on the promise and power of passenger rail investment. i'm so pleased to see amtrak's mission is now focused on serving the entire nation, that its board of directors will be balanced and include perspectives of all served by amtrak including the quality of the on board experience. thank you again for all your hard worked and that of your staff. in addition to being the chairman of the southern rail commission, i'm also a certified public accountant, former mayor, i served on amtrak's mayors' advisory council and i served on various regional transportation committees in mississippi. as i travel across this country on amtrak, i met with local leaders and citizens from all walks of life. i heard a shared vision of how we can build our nation's passenger rail system whether in montana, florida, illinois, washington, maine, or my native south, there is a national aspiration for well-run
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passenger rail service throughout our country that includes a hunger for establishing more multistate commissions like the src which you authorized and funded in the infrastructure law. the southern rail commission made up of commissioners from mississippi, louisiana, and alabama, was established by congress in 1982 and promotes safe and efficient freight and passenger rail service. the src has engaged local decisionmakers, national stakeholders, many of you and your staff, and has been successful at securing resources at federal, state, and local level to make our goals a reality. similar to the great work that you had to pass the bipartisan infrastructure law, there has been a bipartisan effort along the gulf coast with democratic and republican mayors, governors, legislators, in support of restoring passenger rail in our region. in addition to the significant commitments by our states, local governments have committed nearly $1 million for station
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improvements and accessibility improvements all while recovering from natural and man made disasters. we applied for funding for capital infrastructure needs and were rewarded $33 million by the trump administration with a local match of $33 million from our respective states. this funding will help reestablish service between new orleans and mobile and we are on the cusp of realizing that dream with service expected to begin in 2022. in addition to our focus on the gulf, there is great support to establish passenger rail service from new orleans to baton rouge and from atlanta to dallas forget worth by splitting the crescent service and meridian, mississippi. to accomplish these things, working with local, state, amtrak, and host railroads, we intend to leverage the capital money provided by the bipartisan infrastructure law from chrissie, local and regional project assistance programs and the federal/state partnership in operating support from the
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enhancement grants and the interstate rail commissions program. we know that investment in rail has to address both freight and passenger rail. to this end we have a 15-year history of endeavoring to work with freights to restore service. the impasse of which is being heard by the surface transportation board at present. we are currently working closely with canadian pacific on the services i previously mentioned and we have found a willing and able partner. as i mentioned earlier, i'm a cpa and return on investment is important to me. a study conducted by the trent lott center for economic development at the university of southern mississippi found that these investments restoring passenger rail to the gulf could yield a 15 to 1 return for mississippi in economic development and job creation. distinguished members, this is not about nostalgia for the src. this is about the future of a vibrant region in the south. we have seen what passenger rail will do for people across the
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country. and we believe in its promise of what it will do for our home states. thank you and i look forward to your questions. >> i thank the witness for his testimony. i will now move to questions. and i will now move on to member questions. each member will be recognized for five minutes. and i will start by recognizing myself. if i can find them. okay. mr. gardner, one of the great achievements of the iija is that it provides the single largest investment in inner city passenger rail since the creation of amtrak.
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can you elaborate on -- more on how the funding provided to amtrak will benefit the american people? >> thank you, mr. chairman. yes, the dollars that come directly to amtrak out of the $66 billion in the iija are $22 billion. and those dollars are really focused on rebuilding and replacing our outmoded assets, really bringing our system up to a state of good repair. and $16 billion focused on our national network, our 46-state networks, serving our state supported routes and another six for the northeast corridor. these investments are going to mean modern equipment, upgraded stations that are accessible, and more reliable service and better service for communities and passengers around the nation. additionally, the dollars that come to the federal railroad administration through the
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federal/statearprogram really o opportunity for growing and expanding and improving the network to better align today's services with the population of the united states which has grown 120 million people since we reformed 50 years ago. but for which we often don't serve with anywhere near the sufficient level of service. so we're really looking forward to working with great state partners like the witnesses here today and others to find opportunities with the fra to invest and deliver both meaningful improvements to service, great job opportunities for well-paying, long-standing union job opportunities, and really investment in the manufacturing and supply capability of the united states which will produce, again, huge economic dividends and opportunity across the nation. >> thank you very much.
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this money to revolutionize rail in the country will need everyone to get along and do their part. how long did it take everyone to get along on the northeast corridor commission, and does each successive planning document where you're getting more and more specific about the project sequencing easier over time? >> chairman, it's a very poignant question. i think, just as congress faced a hundred years ago, you either hang jointly or hang separately. i think that was certainly in the four years that i've been with the commission, i think we're really focused on cooperating. and i think even when it was the pennsylvania railroad, you know, when it was all under one house,
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there was always the tension between the inner city and the commuter division. i think that sign of collaborative spirit, certainly partnering with the other members, to be very frank and open about the challenges. even within the railroad, you have tension between the people who have to operate the railroad every day and the ones who have to execute the capital projects. that's a natural tension. i think we've put it all out on the table and say, how do we balance, making sure we maintain good, reliable service. does the c-35, the last few years, all of us really worked hard to really drill down on, you know, making sure that when this -- >> right. >> -- opportunity came, we would be prepared. >> thank you. ms. white, how do the commission's challenges and experience compare to the northeast corridor? >> that's a wonderful question, mr. chairman.
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a couple of years ago, i actually attended an nec meeting. so we have very much tried to learn from the nec. we are in our infancy, only being a few years old. so i'm pleased to share that our states have a really great working relationship to date. our cooperation in doing our three planning studies has been excellent. we are working hard in covid to build those relationships and look forward to actually getting together more in person. so much of cooperative working relationships is the key to success. so i think to date we've done everything we've done unanimously and very cooperatively and with this historic investment we see an opportunity to continue that work together. >> thank you very much. my time has expired. i will now go to mr. crawford for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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this first question is for ms. demartino. the historic revenue losses and ridership during covid-19, how can amtrak use funding to strengthen its existing system including by bringing back riders and state-supported routes to improve service? >> thank you for the question. we're optimistic that we'll be able to work with amtrak to improve services, to increase services, to provide additional assets and support for our customers along our corridor. we are looking forward to also improving the cost formula that we mentioned earlier, that's been mentioned several times, so we're able to identify the levers for the cost that we have and to be able to make decisions about future services. during the pandemic we had to reduce our services by 50% and our ridership went down to 5%. i'm really happy to report our
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ridership is booming, we've experienced great increases in ridership. we look forward to working with amtrak to increase our services and improve that ridership and meet the demand that we see along our corridor. >> how can amtrak improve its relationship with state-supported routes including through sharing costs with the states? >> i think that's the biggest thing, sharing costs, being able to identify what things actually cost so that we can make decisions. again, we've been looking for the levers. we need to understand what the station costs are, what our costs are. we definitely want to pay our share for the services that we're providing. but sometimes the costs are opaque, i used that word earlier, because we don't understand. there are some national costs that are built into the state costs. and it makes it difficult for us to make decisions. a few examples are costs for police services and station costs. we share those with some long distance routes. going to, the cost improvement or the cost formula improvement will be a very important part of
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improving the relationship, improving our ability to provide cost effective services, and to be accountable to the people we serve. >> excellent, thank you. i appreciate the responses. and mr. chairman, i will yield back the balance of my time. >> okay. i recognize the gentleman from new jersey, mr. malinowsky, for five minutes. >> i thank the gentleman from new jersey and the chairman. thank you so much. so i want to direct a question to mr. gardner and mr. corbett. and start by acknowledging the tremendous progress that we have made on the gateway project, which as you both know, is
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extraordinarily important to the people of new jersey and new york but also to the entire economy of the eastern seaboard. so in january of this year, as you know, we executed the full funding grant agreement to secure $800 million to replace the portal north bridge, an important part of the project. there's a contract that's been signed with a firm to start building it on the hudson river tunnel. we've secured the long-delayed environmental impact statement. just last week the army corps i should its environmental permit for the tunnel. we hosted president biden for a groundbreaking for the portal bridge. secretary buttigieg has made multiple visits to look at the project. and of course we have just passed and sent to the president enacted the most transformative infrastructure investment in
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generations, a law that will at last fund the gateway project and so much more. we've obviously got a lot more work to do but hopefully soon we're going to be shifting into the construction phase for the tunnel, something that would have seemed out of reach just a couple of years ago. but just as i pushed hard, including in the last administration, to get us to this point, i'm going to push just as hard to get things built faster without compromising on safety. the current plan, as i understand it, for the bridge, for the portal bridge, has final completion slated for july 2027. that's quite a ways down the road. and for the tunnel, if we're able to get the financing plan in place in 2022, what i've heard is talk about completion not until 2035. now, i get that projects in complicated don't get built overnight. but you will not be surprised that my constituents will not be
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happy if they have to wait until 2035 to get this project done. so my question to you both is, what are you doing to expedite those timelines and what comfortable do from washington to help make that happen? >> maybe i can just touch on portal bridge and turn the tunnel over to you, david. congressman, thanks as always for your support. obviously you've been very active in helping not just the northeast corridor and gateway but new jersey transit. i very much appreciate it. i think one of the key things we touched on, the cooperation between amtrak and in this case new jersey transit, we've had on portal bridge, we had excellent cooperation. four years ago, i think it was no secret, we were at war with each other. now if you look at the project development agreement that we have for the execution of the delivery of portal bridge, that's a really historic shift, where amtrak and new jersey
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transit as partners put this out in a way that allows us for shared savings to be realized with a contractor. and bonus payments for being able to meet or exceed milestone deadlines so that we're able to move the project along. and there's an incentive to do that quicker. there is with usdot, we're working with the new administration, both with fta, fra, on harmonization. there are some differences for historic reasons, some may even require legislative fixes. but between fta policies and fra policies, that harmonization effort should also be able to help move projects through, you know, some of those bureaucratic hurdles quicker. steven, if you want to talk about the tunnel, i'll turn it over to you. >> thank you, kevin. and thank you, congressman, for your leadership, as kevin recognized, you've been a huge advocate for this project, we deeply appreciate it.
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we agree with you that moving as fast as we can on the hudson tunnel project is an imperative. i know that kevin shares that view as well. i want to assure you, we are already taking steps to support that. in fact amtrak recently purchased a vital piece of property in manhattan which will be the receiving site for the ventilation shaft area for the new tunnel. we are working to advance the next phase and the final phase of the hudson yards concrete casing which creates the core tunnel connection into penn station. and working cooperatively with new jersey and new york on the strategy to deliver this project. so we are all in on trying to get this done as soon as we can. as you know, the project really has two phases, one is building new tunnels and the second phase is rehabilitating existing north river tubes. in the interim we are advancing
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a north river tube stabilization program to make sure we have reliable service during this period of construction but our aim is to get those new tubes built as soon as we can, because they will create immediate reliability improvements. and then ultimately, as we expand other aspects of the gateway program, create that additional capacity so that new jersey transit and kevin's organization can really substantially grow and amtrak can grow as well. >> thank you. the gentleman's time has expired. we will next have my good friend, the gentleman from illinois, mr. davis, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chair. i appreciate you being here today and i appreciate this hearing. very important issues we're talking about when it comes to public transportation. my first question is for secretary kim. as we look to the future of high speed rail, i really hope our transportation agencies engage more with the private sector. i have been on this committee now for nine years.
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and one of the first pieces of legislation that we got put into a major bill was in regards to public/private partnerships. and with that in mind, how does bright line west fit into the california high speed rail system at this point? >> thank you for the question, mr. davis. as mentioned in my testimony, we have been working very closely and cooperatively with bright line west to help advance their project from las vegas to southern california. i directed caltrans to enter into an mou to enable bright line west to utilize the median of interstate 15 to build their high speed system from vegas to southern california. and so we are working very cooperatively with them. at some point they will connect to the california high speed rail system in southern california. and so there is synergy between what we're doing on the public sector side and what they are doing on the private sector
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side. a lot of cooperation and communication with bright line west. and we expect that to continue. >> great, thank you for your response. i can imagine when it's done, there will be a lot of my fellow raider fans decked out from california to vegas to see them play. mr. gardner, i mentioned bright line in my question to secretary kim. the bright line model allows for positive and free cash flow. and amtrak projects require significant federal grants, federal subsidies and state subsidies. are there ways to partner with private sector companies like bright line who are working to take on ridership and construction risks for the projects in front of them? >> thank you, congressman. and yes, we are open to partnerships and in fact have developed good rapport with a number of entities looking to develop new services and have a relationship, for instance, with texas central that looks to make sure we can create synergy between their projects and also offer our support where we can.
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so we really believe in growth of this mode. the nation needs more inner city passenger rail service to meet its goals. and we want to enable that where we can bring the resources and assets we have and find partnerships that can allow service to grow. >> we appreciate your comments and would encourage you to look at more of this public/private sector partnership like i just mentioned with companies like bright line just for an example as we possibly move into a majority. we're going to be looking at opportunities to make sure that we see opportunities like this continue to move forward. while i have you, mr. gardner, i just wanted to relay something. i'm really supportive of the st. louis to chicago high speed rail corridor in my home state of illinois that goes right through my district. we're going to continue to work
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together to ensure that we try to do everything we can to increase ridership along that corridor. but i had one of my folks witness something the other day that kind of disturbed me a little bit and i think discourages ridership. we fly a lot from our districts to dc. and sometimes you walk on the plane, your mask may be falling down a little bit. the flight attendant will say, hey, could you raise that up. just the other day, before one of the passenger trains took off from bloomington, illinois towards chicago, it was witnessed by somebody very close to me that a couple of passengers were carrying their luggage on, their mask fell down. they were told to step outside. they were told to step off the train. and then they weren't let on the train without any warning whatsoever. i mean, look, i get following the rules. but at some point, we've got to make sure they don't have a
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system of mask vigilantes who stop people from utilizing a service we're trying to encourage more ridership on. so i would encourage you, in this one case, i know hopefully it's not something that happens on a regular basis, but i would appreciate you relaying to your employees that it's imperative that we try to get people to cooperate but at the same time, umm, those who are not -- who are not being troublesome should be offered a chance to get back on the train after following the directions. so do you have any comments on that? >> well, sir, i absolutely agree, that's not consistent with our policy. and we'll certainly look into that event. absolutely, we of course encourage, with lots of communication, compliance with the mask requirements. and then on board if we encounter situations or in our stations where people aren't complying, we absolutely should politely ask them to comply and have a good dialogue to make
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sure they understand the requirements and are given opportunities to comply. so that is the appropriate way to handle our guests, our customers. and we -- that's not consistent at all with how i expect and anyone on amtrak expects us to handle this important safety requirement. >> my team will get with you on the exact train and the time. hopefully you can look into it. >> please. >> i yield back. >> thank you. the gentleman yields back. now we have mr. moulton for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you all for being here. i want to pick up actually just where my good friend from illinois left off. mr. gardner, great to see you. we've talked about this before. as we all know from flying regularly in the united states, when you get off a plane, the crew usually thanks you, certainly the flight attendants, often the pilots too. why does that never happen on amtrak? >> congressman, good to see you. i can say that certainly on many
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trips that i'm on, we do have crew that both welcomes and thanks folks for their patronage. certainly it is an important thing that we have all of our employees recognize. the privilege we have to serve them and are conveying both that hospitality and thanks. in general, our conductors, our personnel, get great marks, in fact the highest marks we have in our customer satisfaction surveys, of which we do thousands and thousands a day, and very robust data, for the friendliness and helpfulness of conductors. in general we have very good feedback from our customers. but it is always something we have to work on. and i appreciate you raising it. i completely concur that we want people to feel appreciated and welcomed -- >> i want more people to ride trains and i just want to help you get there. i've never seen an engineer
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thank anyone for being on the train. pilots do that regularly. these are just some things i think to think about. there are other things we can do to make people ride trains more. in europe, track speeds are standard at about 100 miles an hour on roads that are not high speed, commuter trains in the uk, which is sort of notorious in europe for not having great speeds on its railways, are 125. kevin, tell us what you're doing to increase speeds. why are we still going 79 miles per hour in america, which is basically a speed limit set in 1947? >> congressman, as i think you realize, the history of really in the northeast corridor, a legacy of a lot of the private railroads. in new jersey transit's case, we had the erie, the lackawanna.
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you have the infrastructure in the most densely populated part of the country. and when you look at -- we are still -- the backbone of our system is really still from the 19th century. >> that's right, but now we have ptc. what is preventing us from going above 79 miles per hour? >> basically it's a complex issue, but simply that you have the commuter rails running on the sail tracks on the northeast corridor and also in some areas, freight trains. local stops may be going from philadelphia to new york. >> can we get a better answer to this? because there's a 1947 law that dictates 79 miles per hour that should not apply now that we have ptc. if you could take that for the record, i would really appreciate it. how much would it increase capacity in penn station if your commuter trains ran through to long island in vice-versa so new jersey transit and long island
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railroad were not turning trains around in a through station? >> congressman, for the through running in new york, that definitely, as any station, rather than having to stop, switch the head, and go back, we are studying working with amtrak on the expansion, looking at the various options of how many trains we can run through and putting that. so we'll have to get back to you when that study is completed. it will definitely shorten the time of turnarounds. >> we looked in boston, it increased the capacity of south station by eight times, which is massive, significant for a station as congested as penn. i hope you're looking at that and considering that as you look at these tunnel opportunities as well. steven, back to you real quick, mr. davis was talking about the advantages of private capital. obviously private capital as a good thing. many infrastructure, many high speed rail projects around the world benefit from private capital. there's a lot of private capital proposed for investment in the
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dallas to houston corridor that you mentioned. how are you going to be sure to leverage that? i'm a bit concerned that amtrak seems to planned to build a publicly funded route right parallel to the texas central high speed rail plan. >> thanks, congressman. so actually our initial proposal is to invest in the other pieces of the legs there in the texas triangle to pursue service that can create connectivity with texas central and serve the other parts of texas and create real integrated network. as you know, every developed nation in the world has a combination of inner city, commuter, and high speed service that work together in a network to be able to serve the many different markets that exist and create really that overall value of mobility by providing many different types of trips for many different parts -- so we think about advancing the texas
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corridors together with texas central, focusing on those areas that could create feeder connectivity to the high speed service, recognizing the high speed service of course won't serve many local communities. it will make a few stops in order to achieve those high speeds and those trip times. and over time, we think there is opportunity for sort of in-fill together with the high speed service. but really our focus is on the other two legs of the triangle as initial starts in connecting with the texas central. >> i support that approach. mr. chairman, thank you for your indulgence. >> thank you. the gentleman's time is expiring. mr. weber for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. my questions are also going to be for mr. gardner. mr. gardner, i think in your comments you mentioned a gulf coast line. of course i have the gulf coast of texas, three coastal counties. were you referring to something along those lines, pun intended, or was this something more
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easter reply? easterly? >> thank you, congressman. i was referring to the gulf coast service we've been planning with the southern rec commission with mr. ross who is here today between mobile and new orleans. however, we do see opportunity, as mr. ross mentioned, we have opportunities elsewhere in the region. but that service has been planned for many years now, and hopefully we'll be able to start soon. i think as mr. ross said, it really does create sort of an initial great opportunity to demonstrate the opportunity for more service in south. >> well, thanks. i'm also interested, as you mentioned, the triangle there in texas, high speed rail that we talked -- that has been being talked about, i'm interested, you mentioned i think amtrak coming in and -- i forget how you said it, partnering on things with congressman
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moulton's dialogue into the different areas of the corridor but i would like for you to reach out to my office and kind of give us an update on exactly what you plan to do in that regard, not right -- i don't need it right here today. i need to move on to my next question. i know that amtrak has had some ridership losses. and of course i appreciated mr. davis's question and seth moulton's too for that matter because it raises issues. we want to be, you know, the old quote used to be the friendly skies of united. well, maybe we need the friendly snacks of amtrak. we need to pass our peanuts or pretzels kind of like some of the airlines do and thank the riders, that would probably help a little bit. do you have plans to bolster your ridership? because i know there's been some losses. >> yeah, great question. and as you mentioned, we did go down to about 4% of our demand
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here, last year in april. we've already come back to 70%, 75% in many of our market. so we've been growing back steadily. obviously the coronavirus continues to present challenges. but we're hopeful we're going to continue that trend. one of the things we focused on during this time is to build better communication technology and connectivity for our passengers, make their trip easier, and also focus on our pricing and new opportunities to get more riders. and i'm really encouraged that we've been able to increase ridership for new riders, folks who have never ridden the train before, by 500,000 folks a month. this is a whole new cadre of folks who are coming to the train the first time and growing. so we also restored and improved our dining service on our western trains. we are improving service across the network and upgrading our fleet. so i think all of these things are coming together to provide a
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better service and really encourage those folks to come back. we don't know how long it will be until business travel returns so a lot of leisure riders is important. >> i'll do the question first. partnering up with the rail lines now, do some studies to -- modular studies to see if services on those lines are supported by capacity, and schedule modeling studies, have you been able to partner up with any of the railroads to do those studies to see about expanding capacity on those lines? >> yes, absolutely. we've been working very closely with a variety of railroads on opportunities to expand, notably santa fe and our work to expand the service between texas and oklahoma, potentially extend that north to wichita and newton.
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in colorado, along the front range, also at the nsf, to look at opportunities there. with canadian pacific, we've been having really good conversations about launching a new service between the twin cities, milwaukee and chicago. similarly i think there's opportunities for the baton rouge to new orleans service that mr. ross mentioned. and we have a strong modeling capability, service planning. the northeast corridor handles 2,200 trains a day in normal times. we model that interaction of 2,000 freight trains, about 130 amtrak trains and 70 freight trains a day. and so we know how to build a schedule that works and have great cooperation with a number of our host railroads to do that. we're going to work together with them to find those win-wins that -- >> thank you. and mr. chair, how much time do i have left? >> the gentleman's time has expired. >> thank you for that.
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i yield back. >> thank you, sir. next we have mr. cohen. you're recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chair. i appreciate you and ranking member crawford holding this important hearing. i am a big fan of amtrak, a big fan of rail transportation. and we've heard today about inner city passenger rail service and how it will reduce the carbon footprint which is so important right now, reduce congestion, returning to pre-pandemic levels, and create better job opportunities and access to affordable and equitable opportunities. the weekend after this i'm planning to go to nashville to see the university of tennessee basketball game. it would be so wonderful if we had a train from memphis to nashville that i could ride, rather than rent a car, go on i-40 and lodge large trailer trucks, cabs and all that stuff,
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and hopefully make it alive. it would be much better with a train. that would be wonderful. so the infrastructure investment jobs act has the first time dedicated reliable federal support for states and entities seeking to improve and expand this inner city passenger rail service. i love amtrak, i go from washington to new york and washington to baltimore and all those. but it would be nice to get it more in the country, deeper into the country. and there are people that would use rail if possible, like memphis to nashville, which this will be a repeated theme through my remarks. many metro areas have little or no access to rail service. memphis is the only major city served in our state and it goes to chicago and new orleans. that's been there for years. the cityof new orleans, former panama limited trains.
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nobody goes from memphis to nashville. i introduced the act which will create multistate regional passenger commissions such as the successful southern rail commission for regional coordination and sustain passenger rail service across america. it was included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill. so it's law. and it establishes competitive grant programs for financial assistance. we want to incentivize states to create these multistate rail commissions which would help regional collaboration to get passenger rail service and provide these essential connections to jobs. ford just announced a $5.6 billion investment at the memphis regional mega site which is 50, 60 miles out of memphis in tennessee. they're going to build electric vehicles and battery manufacturing plant there. it's the largest investment ever in tennessee. it will create 5,800 jobs and expanded passenger rail service between memphis and nashville could take residents to and from blue oval city to have those
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jobs and make it easier to get those high paying, desirable jobs. mr. knox ross, mississippi commissioner, thank you, mr. ross. as the chairman of the oldest rail commission in the country, can you speak quickly, because my time is limited, to how the creation of the multistate passenger rail commission can be helpful in expanding service in tennessee? >> yes, sir, we can talk specifically about memphis to nashville. >> good. >> the three-state compact, mississippi, alabama, louisiana, we work on projects both among our three states and within our three statements, one example we mentioned is baton rouge to new orleans, wholly within louisiana. and we all wholeheartedly support that and work on that. the same thing would be if the state of tennessee joined the southern rail commission. then we could begin work on working with the host railroad, working with amtrak to look and see what the possibilities are, what the capacity constraints are, what the potential ridership would be between nashville and memphis.
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and on the surface, that sounds like a great service and one we should definitely look at. >> thank you, i appreciate it. that's a great idea for tennessee to join with the southern group and just add to it rather than trying to create their own. >> that's right. >> the governor would need to initiate that, i presume? >> yes, sir. the governor, legislatures of mississippi, alabama, louisiana, would have to vote to invite the state of tennessee and the legislature of the state of tennessee would have to vote to join. >> that could happen. >> i think it can happen. it's been pretty simple. but i think the main thing about that type of project is having something like the southern rail commission, it works across administrations. we've been working on our gulf -- >> let me switch real quick, i appreciate it, but my time is about out, i got 30 seconds. mr. gardner, in amtrak's 2035 plan, we've had several routes including chattanooga to atlanta but they don't have -- was the
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nashville to atlanta route considered, and if so, why wasn't it included? >> thank you, congressman. our proposal here is really illustrative of the type of service that we think can make sense. having worked for, as a young staffer for the house member from nashville, i know for sure that that route between nashville and memphis could be very important. we think the national chattanooga/atlanta route is the first one out of the gate because of opportunities there. we're willing to talk to our office further. of course the fra is going to make the decisions about corridor development plan, but we're very bullish on opportunities for tennessee, both to the north from nashville, to the west, to the south and east. >> thank you very much. i would like to concentrate on what you've already got, which is memphis, a great route. if the people from nashville can go to memphis, they can then go to new orleans. everybody wants to new orleans, and next, everybody wants to go to new orleans. atlanta, meh.
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>> thank you. the gentleman's time has expired. next, my good friend, the gentleman from california, mr. lamalfa, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, appreciate it. mr. gardner, i want to come your way for a little bit to know, i personally have supported amtrak. and i think it's important that we do the best we can to have that type of rail service around our country. it makes great sense in the northeast corridor there. and i don't know how close it comes to breaking even and such. of course on the west coast we've got one of the nicest routes in the world going down along the coast. but -- you know, you come back to cost effectiveness, that's a different question. what we're looking at here indeed is approximately $75 billion investment. and at the height of our economy, before we had all the covid business here, amtrak travel consisted of about 1.7% of the miles of riders in this
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country versus other modes. so that's kind of a tough number. so we'll be looking at that as we go along here. what i want to ask though too is on the expansion of this new equipment and such that would be in this investment. where will the equipment be built? we talk a lot about -- my colleague from california, mr. garamendi, we'll build it in the u.s. can we count on this equipment being built in the united states? >> thank you for that question. and yes, our investments in fleet will be built domestically. we've recently placed an order with siemens from california to build over 83 trains with options for over a hundred more. those will be built there in sacramento. additionally we have our current new acela that's under construction, and that has got 95% of its parts and all of its
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construction is here in the u.s. we are subject of course to buy america rules. the iija makes that clear for the grant dollars. so -- >> let me -- i'm sorry, time keeps flying. so we can expect to not see a bunch of stuff come from china, china rail cars, china et cetera? >> we will have open procurement process for additional fleet. but that fleet requirement will be very clearly established as being built in america and subject to the buy america requirements. >> okay. i'll accept that answer. so for now, talk to me a little bit about the -- i think mr. moulton was talking about the speed with which conventional tracks, nonhigh speed rail tracks are stuck at 79 miles an hour. doesn't acela have the ability to go 120? does it do much 120 miles per hour, is that a maximum for
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conventional high grade tracks? >> so acela, our new acela service, actually our trains will be capable of 186 miles an hour. they'll operate at 160 miles an hour on the northeast corridor. >> is this a conventional train or is that a dedicated high speed -- >> that's a high speed -- that's a high speed train. it does share tracks with conventional service. outside the northeast corridor the sort of practical top speed in many corridors is about 110 miles an hour. as congressman moulton mentioned, 79 is built around an old train control requirement with ptc. we can get higher speeds, 90, 110. but you have to address a number of infrastructure pieces including the crossing grade systems and the signal systems -- >> so you can run a higher speed train on a conventional track than 79 if the track is in good repair, you can go 120? >> absolutely. we have a 110-mile-an-hour
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service in michigan on infrastructure we have today owned by the state of michigan. we're moving to 110 miles an hour in the next year in st. louis to chicago. so 110 is -- >> thank you, let me shift to mr. kim. i appreciate it, mr. gardner. in california we have a big push towards high speed rail. in 2011 the price had tripled from what the voters were told in 2008. it was going to be $33 billion on the ballot, it ended up being $98 billion. they downsized it a little bit and it's right back up to $100 billion now. it's many, many years behind. right now the initial phase will end at hammond orchard [ inaudible ] to stop at merced. we're not even connecting the big cities of sf and l.a. so wouldn't we be smart to cut the losses and look at upgrading our conventional tracks that amtrak runs on now to have capabilities running 120 miles
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per hour and not spend all this money and change these routes? we had a hearing yesterday, we were talking about gentrification and expulsion happening in brownfield areas where they will be cleaned up. we know this is going to displace people in low income disadvantaged areas in california. they're going to run right through it. so why can't we look at upgrading existing rail and running trains 120 miles an hour, especially since high speed rail doesn't really have the ambition to run entirely from sf to l.a. without stopping? >> the gentleman's time has expired but i will allow a quick answer from the witness. >> thank you, sir. >> thank you, mr. lamalfa, i appreciate the question. let me just start at a very high level. high speed rail is absolutely essential to the future of transportation in california. it will completely transform the way we travel, not just in california but in the u.s., worldwide. so many of our fellow americans have traveled abroad to europe,
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to asia -- >> sir, those are talking points. please just drill down on that. please. >> well, okay. so your question had to do with the schedule, cost, budget, that sort of thing. no question about it, any mega project of this scope will have its challenges. but i'm here to tell you, if you travel through the central valley, you will see visible signs of progress. progress is being made, 119 miles of construction under way, 6,000 jobs, a lot of viaducts, structure is being built. and it's moving forward. and it's also bolstering the economy of the central valley, which you know very well is an important regional economy. we are focused on making investments in the central valley and to have high speed rail as a foundational element of the regional economy. >> thank you. the gentleman's time has expired. next on the list, we have mr.
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sires, the gentleman from new jersey. >> medical hello, can you hear ? >> yes, sir. >> first of all, thank you very much. this is certainly an important hearing. you know, i ride the eastern corridor just about every time i go to washington. and i remember riding the acela with senator frank lautenberg. he complained about the kind of ride it was. he said, by the time we arrive in washington i'll lose my kidneys. i guess my question to you is, look, you have curves, you have old tracks. you're going through
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communities. how realistic -- besides the sharing of tracks. how realistic is it that you're going to be able to cut a lot more time between new york and washington? >> congressman, thank you, i'll take that question. you're absolutely right, we are dealing with a rail infrastructure that's over a hundred years old in many cases and there's a lot to catch up on. we do, in the connect 35 plan that mr. corbett described, and the northeast corridor commission has been leading, and kevin has been doing a great job leading that organization, we have a plan, after these investments, we'll see trip time reductions of 30 minutes between washington and new york. amtrak and the fra have looked at further high speed segments on the corridor. it's going to take a while. we have to address those old tracks, do a lot of work there. but amtrak is already ramping up
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to double up our machine capacity to be able to do that work, hiring folks. and the dollars that you've supported in the iija between the house and our commuter the partners in the fra, we're going to be able to make these investments and really take some time off the trip. part of that is fixing some of those curves. a lot of it is redoing the overhead electrical wires, the cattenary system. we'll be able to upgrade speeds. together those kind of efforts plus the renewal of the basic infrastructure like portal bridge is going to help us take minutes off and eventually a full half hour over time. >> how about the ride? >> ride quality, absolutely. the ride quality is really poor primarily because much of the railroad has never been what's called undercut, which is that the ballast and subballast, the elements underneath, haven't
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been replaced in decades. we're undertaking a comprehensive program to redo that foundation. it's really that foundation plus the track structure that produces a good ride quality. additionally, our new equipment will help as well. but a lot of work to do there. and we're committed to doing it, as is new jersey transit and our other partners. >> thank you. mr. corbett, this question is for you. what lines -- i'm thinking in terms of -- let me explain myself. i'm thinking in terms of getting the people in my district to the meadowlands where there are jobs there through extending the line rail into the meadowlands. you get cars out of the streets and get people to those jobs. are we considering that in the near future? >> i think, congressman, there's two things. certainly, and you're we're, and i'm sure congressman moulton will appreciate, this saturday
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with the army/navy game, 20th anniversary of 9/11, will be held at the metlife stadium in secaucus. so we have a very good, thanks to your support for the last four years, we've made tremendous strides in turning around new jersey transit for our commuter services and our direct services we'll be running for example to the game this weekend. >> but i'm talking from my district. >> yeah. so -- >> in other words, the light rail ends in north bergen. >> right. that is in parallel. not from the northeast corridor commission side, but pulling in, as you may recall last year, even through the pandemic, we did an -- independent of amtrak on our commuter rails, looking at extending that up. and we did an innovation challenge to look at a public/private partnership to see how we can do that. that would be in concert with the service we connect at the northeast corridor in secaucus. >> i think with the people that own the mall, a partnership would greatly improve people
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accessing the mall. plus getting cars out of the roads and into the games. when the games are there you can hardly move through there. >> absolutely, the traffic is post-pandemic. >> anyway, i just wanted to say about amtrak, i ride it, very nice. and even when you don't wear your mask, they're very pleasant when they tell you, please wear the mask. could you please improve the wi-fi, that would be very helpful. thank you. >> thank you. i associate myself with those comments for us that ride the northeast corridor to get here to washington. next we have ms. steel, you have five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you to all the witnesses coming out today. we are grateful.
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ms. de martino, it is a pleasure to see you and i appreciate your continued advocacy for orange county taxpayers. in your testimony you outlined concerns with the current state of amtrak cost methodology. i share your concerns regarding transparency and accountability with state taxpayers' money. can you discuss a specific example of when those services your agency received did not align the cost charged by amtrak? the costs of amtrak? >> i thank you, congresswoman steel, for that question. i mentioned a few concerns earlier. let me provide a challenge of a recent challenge we faced when i asked amtrak to run an additional train to ensure we could support our anticipated high ridership during the holiday season. amtrak was not able to provide
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that information in a timely manner. we chose to run the train not understanding exactly what it would cost, and this phrase was used earlier, that's no way to run a railroad. the cost formula update we hope will help solve these issues in the future. >> thank you very much. next question, it's so nice seeing you. i've known you for so many years. let me ask this question, can you collaborate how the agency is working in the programs because in your testimony you mentioned that infrastructure package presents numerous funding of high speed rail projects that i've been so much against. can you elaborate on how how much better funding you will
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request in this bill for the california high-speed rail? according to recent "l.a. times" article the high speed rail project creates serious ongoing problems in communities. it plans to operate in the central valley streets have been torn up and homeless shelter lost half of its land because it was in the way of the project and another homeless mission in bakersfield may be demolished to build a line. meanwhile, working class san jose neighborhood with a large latino population lies in the path of the track. how does high speed rail specifically impact communities who lose their homeless shelters and have high speed rail related noise in their backyard or by their local hospitals?
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>> ms. steel, it's so good to see you. we've known each other for many years as you noted. and on this issue, let's just say we have a friendly disagreement. with respect to the impact of high speed rail on disadvantaged communities in fresno and bakersfield and homeless shelters, high speed rail authority entered into agreements and settlements with those respective homeless shelters to essentially make them whole and to enable them to continue their operations in other parts of the city. the high speed rail authority received compliments from the mayors of fresno and bakersfield on the high speed rail authority's efforts to address those issues, and so we take heart in that. in terms of san jose, i think there were several inaccuracies in the article you referenced. there was never a plan to build a 50-mile viaduct. we are required by state law to
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build a blended system in the south bay of the bay area, a blended system with cal train commuter rail service. that's what we're doing. the board members have made crystal clear to authority staff that to the extent there are impacts to affected communities, the high speed authority staff is to work closely and to coordinate with them to address any and all impacts to mitigate them as much as possible and to leave those communities in better shape than before. that is their charge. that is what we are committed to do and that is what we are doing. >> the original cost for $30 billion to over $100 billion in certain sections it's not even started yet. so it's, to me, just raise taxpayers' money.
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i'm going to submit since my time is up and i yield back. >> i thank the gentle lady for yielding back. next we have mr. garcia for five minutes. >> thank you, chairman payne, for holding this hearing and thanks to all the witnesses today. i ask none consent to insert into the record a statement from the midwest interstate passenger rail commission. mr. chairman? >> without objection, i'm sorry. >> thank you. i'm a strong supporter of expanding our passenger rail services. the record and jobs act provide us with the once in a generation opportunity to create a better and more robust rail system but we have to use the funding wisely. let me first ask mr. gardner,
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you note in your testimony amtrak has a robust plan to expand service using funding from the infrastructure investment jobs act. can you expand on amtrak's vision for increasing rail service especially in the midwest and in particular out of its chicago hub? >> yes, thank you, congressman. i would be happy to do that. as i noticed you submitted the comments from the midwest team and they've been doing a great job driving, planning here and we're pleased to work with them. we've proposed increases in service north to milwaukee and extend service west from there to madison into the twin cities,
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service down state in illinois, improvement and increases in all the illinois services. additional service to michigan, one of our biggest and fastest growing services there, and service through to indiana. we have proposed a comprehensive plan, and i would note the fra recently introduced their plan for the midwest working with all the states and communities and amtrak there which we support. so there's a great opportunity, as i mentioned in my testimony, the fra will drive the development through their plan and other states will be able to offer our viewers there. we're looking forward to working with the fra on these opportunities. >> i'm going to ask you two questions briefly if you would respond because i have another question i want to ask some of the other panelists.
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what steps is amtrak taking to coordinate potential expansion plans with commuter agencies and, two, do you commit to working with metra in the chicagoland region to minimize impacts to service and collaborate investments that benefit both services? >> well, to answer the last one first, yes, we do commit to work with metra and have a good working relationship on a number of fronts. they, of course, utilize our station, we utilize their railroad lines in a number of locations in and around chicago. that partnership is really important. to develop those partnerships we are engaging with each of our potential railroads and partners to look for those opportunities for joint funding and to go after these opportunities for growth to support both inner city and commuter. we want to see passenger, inner city and commuter everywhere across the united states. it makes sense. >> great, thank you.
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for the other panelists mr. ross, white and demartino, you've had the host railroad for your respective services. what can congress do to help you as you discuss expanding and improving passenger rail service with your freight railroad? you'll have about 15 seconds each. >> congressman, thank you. i think it's enforcing congress and the will as the chairman talked about in the beginning that people have a preference over frayed. we understand we have to work together to do that but there are many ways amtrak and other hosts can work together to get this done, but the law has to be enforced. >> thank you. ms. white? >> thank you, congressman. i would say the money in the iija will be really important as
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we work, for example, on the s line, it is an fra grant that enables us to acquire that line from csx and enables us to grow freight rail on it at the same time as passenger. we'll be looking to iija for those funds to build the infrastructure that allows both freight and passenger to grow. i think you've done the work we need of you and we appreciate it. >> if you could submit your written answer, it would be much appreciated. i yield back, mr. chairman. >> i thank the gentleman for yielding back. next we have mr. burchett for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. as i stated to you privately, if i had your wardrobe, i would burn mine. i'm in my carhartt. >> the gentleman is very kind. >> i got a little cold up here. mr. gardner, in your testimony you mentioned amtrak's ridership is still only 65% to 70% of what
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it was before covid-19. how do you plan to restore ridership and when do you expect that to happen? >> thank you for that question, mr. congressman. we are, as i said, working hard to grow new riders. we certainly do hope to get in the high 70s or 80% as we restore our service over the course of the year. it will take several years. a lot depends on the pandemic and business travel. our service is being patronized, a lot of leisure is less. we do feel confident that over the next several years we'll be
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able to bring back that ridership and grow from there. the situation that created value for passenger rail, which is congestion on the highways, desire to have a more comfortable trip with productivity, like being able to use your computer and get up and walk around, have a nice meal, so we think that rail makes sense and, of course, the pandemic has dampened all of transportation. we are confident that it will return and we will do everything to help ensure that growth and offer a safe and compelling service. >> also, i understand amtrak is planning to either expand or build a new rail corridor in 26 states over the next 15 years
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and i was wondering what makes you think amtrak will turn a profit in those communities when they have been losing money for 50 years? >> well, thanks for that question. we have proposed these corridors working with our state partners for development. that will depend on the department of transportation and their priorities as they set out a plan for the investments. our expectation is that these corridors require and produce real value and support a lot of important transportation needs but we measure those not necessarily by the profit or the fare backs, in terms of rail systems we believe that amtrak's mission is to create mobility.
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we do that with as little public funding as we can. i think that's fair. all transportation modes require investment and this is one area where you can see it quite clearly in our service because it's localized in amtrak and our state partners. those investments provided dividends. there is no path that we can see for the mobility needs of the nation as we add another 100 million or so folks to the country over the next 20 or 30 years that doesn't involve a lot more passenger rail. and as that happens, hopefully our finances can improve. certainly on the northeast corridor we've demonstrated we can operate very commercial oriented service. >> let me stop you. i'm going to run out of time here. you're good at running out the clock, and i can appreciate your skills there. since you mentioned you needed more funding down the line, don't you think it would be better to make your current
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corridors profitable before you build new ones in other parts of the country? >> well, we are focused on improving the existing corridors. many of those corridors can be served by higher speeds or additional frequencies so we are focused on that, but we think over the course of the next 15 years we have to get more services where more people now live. the southeast, the mountain west, the southwest coast population growth has been huge and yet many of the places we barely serve if serve at all. as a matter of equity and investment, we think many deserve passenger rail and can get benefits from it. >> mr. chairman, i believe i've run out of my time. thank you so much. >> thank you. the gentleman yields back. next we will have mr. johnson from georgia. you have five minutes, sir. >> thank you, mr. chairman, for holding this hearing and thank
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the witnesses, all of you, for your testimony. mr. ross, i understand that you, rather than flying from mississippi to d.c., you decided to take amtrak. tell us how was your trip, and did your train arrive on time? and, if so -- and if not, why not? >> thank you, congressman. i try to use the service that i promote and so i did ride the crescent up and let me first say that the onboard staff was excellent. and they served me very well and i appreciate them. we were about an hour and a half late coming into d.c. and the problem was a train left new orleans on time and before it got to its first stop it was an hour and a half late. and because of freight train
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interference with norfolk southern. we had signaling issues in birmingham. and so it never was able to really make that up. and i think that is the most concerning part of making long-distance train travel acceptable for more people and useful is making sure the trains run on time. and there are a lot of different ways to do that. >> let me ask you, amtrak has been forced to effectively cede its statutory right to priority over freight trains even though that is in violation of current law. when amtrak can't run trains on time that disen disincentivizes people. freight faces no penalties for causing the delay and there is
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no right to sue. but for passenger rail to succeed, we must prioritize on-time trains. and i agree with you. mr. ross, what actions can the department of transportation and the federal rail administration take to address this imbalance, and what language do you recommend for future legislation that would compel freights to obey the law? >> i think there's two things. the first is giving amtrak the right to sue in times there's just no other way to resolve the problem. we should work with our freight partners to try to resolve this problem but there are intractable times there's no other alternative and they should have the right to do that. but through the iija and investment in passenger rail that will happen around the country, part of that can be used to improve capacity in areas that it is admittedly limited. between meridian, mississippi, and birmingham, alabama, it is
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very difficult to get the train across there because of the amount of traffic and the capacity of the railroad. >> and mr. ross, i understand that freight has refused to share vital data with the fra, which even about essential information such as the number of trains on the track and the length of a train and congestion delays. this information is necessary to understand the infrastructure needed to expand passenger rail service and freight insists such information is proprietary knowledge, and it's not and they undercut the fra's ability to do its job. the fra should be the arbiter of truth with the ability to ask and receive the kind of information that it needs. do you agree that this information is necessary to leverage the funding in supporting improved, expanded
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passenger service? >> absolutely. while we recognize the right of railroads like rates and things like that, it's certainly not proprietary to know how many trains operate a day. anybody can go out and just watch that and see it. things like that are important to protect the taxpayers' investment and that will benefit the movement of freight. it's important the fra, the arbiter, has access to that basic information that should be very reasonable and easily gotten to make proper decisions. >> what steps need to be taken so the fra can compel freights to share modeling and data and conduct its oversight successfully? >> congressman, in my testimony i have language to that effect and will be happy to share that with you or expand on it. >> thank you so much. i remember fondly trips that my
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family used to make on the nancy hanks from atlanta down to santa'sville, georgia, serving the small towns in between and look forward to getting back to those days where we have a vibrant passenger rail service that is served throughout our southern states. thank you. i yield back. >> now i'll have my good friend from pennsylvania, mr. fitzpatrick, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, for yielding. my question is for mr. gardner. mr. gardner, thank you for being with us today. so the infrastructure provides considerable funding for amtrak to invest in the northeast core door and the national network. amtrak's construction schedule, changes and delays oftentimes made with limited advanced
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notice can impact the operating schedule and ontime performance for septa which my constituents depend on. it's been a persistent problem under amtrak's funding levels. what specific measures, sir, is amtrak willing to take, or is currently taking, to address these issues going forward? how will amtrak manage projects to make sure septa customers, many of whom are my constituents, are not adversely affected by all the work planned under the iija? >> thank you, congressman, thank you for that question and for your support for amtrak and rail investment. i understand your question exactly. we work very hard to develop a comprehensive program for every year that lays out the capital
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work. kevin corbett, the co-chair, leads on that. early on prior to the future of the fiscal year with our development plans for work and run these plans by all of the impacted railroads and gain concurrence about the work outages necessary and the service impacts. to your point there are going to be service impacts as we do all this work. we have decades of investment to put in the railroad and we need to preserve good customer service while we're building. it is about that, modeling the whole railroad, these different projects, and find the best sequence of work so we don't impact service more than necessary, and we get the work done efficiently.
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we're scaling up our capacity to get the jobs done on time and we're going to work cooperatively with septa so they can immediate customers needs and your constituents' needs. >> my second and final question is regarding the liability issue between septa and amtrak, which i'm sure you're familiar with. it's been an ongoing issue. in june i submitted an amendment for a gao report to further look into the liability agreements in place between amtrak and commuter rail. could you tell us if any progress has been made in this dispute. >> the liability issue on the northeast corridor is one the northeast corridor commission has been looking at for years to find a common path forward to deal with the many different liability regimes that exist
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amongst the four owners and eight operators that share parts of the railroad here. the commission has set out a deadline for the end of 2022 to further advance some studies and work collectively to try and come up with a path we could implement over the next couple of years. amtrak is committed to finding a path forward but one that's standard across the corridor given that we are both a tenant and an owner and need to have a relationship that makes sense for all the different entities that work there. we are making progress individually with septa on some of the liability issues as they relate to projects that we undertake, joint projects. and, in fact, i believe we're waiting for just agreement from septa on a proposal we've been working on together. we want to make incremental progress and have been working with our colleagues up and down the corridor in how to deal with the broader issue of liability between the entities. >> thank you, mr. gardner.
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as you know, i've put in a lot of work and my customers are dependent on septa. >> i have a chance to meet with the head of septa every month and it's a really important relationship for amtrak. i know we can do a lot of great things together. >> i yield back. >> the gentleman yields back within the five minutes, and we thank him. next we have mr. auchincloss, the gentleman from massachusetts, for five minutes. >> the bipartisan infrastructure bill includes $66 billion above current funding levels to eliminate the amtrak maintenance backlog, modernize the northeast corridor and world class service outside the northeast mid-atlantic. massachusetts will be able to compete for $5 billion in safety
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grants and $3 billion for grade crossing safety improvements. one of the most urgent and consistent needs is for commuter rail platforms compliant with the americans with disabilities act. stations in wellesley and newton receive questions and calls from our wheelchair bound and sight-impaired residents. one lives in an affordable housing unit within wellesley square and can easily get to the station but cannot get to the train. the infrastructure bill sponsored by my colleagues on the committee, congressman garcia and congresswoman newman, it includes a component sponsored by those two that establishes a program to made compliant upgrades at legacy transit and commuter rail authorities. the all station accessibility program establishes a $1.7 billion competitive grant program to assist eligible
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entities upgrades. the commuter rails stations are past due for these kinds of upgrades. mr. corbett, how is the northeast corridor commission working to set up the application process? >> our staff are working. i touched on -- thank you for the question, that we're looking at the harmonization issue. which category those grants come through. the ada issue is critical. also for us in new jersey transit where we have hundreds of stations built in the 1920s that are not ada compliant with full elevated platforms, so we're talking billions and billions of dollars to bring the whole commuter rails up as well as along amtrak's ride away. how we can accelerate that within the guidance of
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legislation with fra and fta would help expedite that tremendously. >> what can the transportation authority do to work with the commission to ensure that the framingham/worcester line upgrades in newton and wellesley are prioritized? >> that is certainly from the state of massachusetts the priority with the representatives and we work within the commission. if something requires a legislative fix, we would come back. if it's within the guidelines of the framework that we operate under on the commission, then we could do that within the commission. >> what makes a grant competitive for this program? >> we're still wait to go digest what's come out of the bill, the guidance from fta programs. i can let stephen talk on the $66 billion for amtrak, but generally on the competitive
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grants versus the formula funding, the ability to move, have the preliminary engineering, the studies done so that we may not have full engineering but can move the environmental process as rapidly as possible. >> we're working on -- we'll have the schematics for the newton rail stations ready to go 30% to 100% over the next few years. look forward to working with you on prioritizing those projects. >> having the money up front, some people used to talk about shovel ready. the contractors, the engineering, design firms, until they know the money is there and we cannot commit funds we don't have, so that's critical to move these projects quickly. >> mr. chairman, i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman for yielding back. next we have the gentleman from louisiana, mr. carter, for five minutes.
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we will have the gentleman from louisiana, mr. carter, for five minutes. you're on mute, sir. >> got it. thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for coming today, mr. ross, and the great rail on the southern commission. as a longtime public servant i've been a part of many discussions about the promise and the challenges of regional passenger services. i'm happy to know that with the passage of the infrastructure bill that we have an opportunity to make that a reality. in your testimony you mentioned support for the area of establishing rail between new orleans and baton rouge. as you know this is something that's been critically important
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to the people for a very long time and rapid rail between new orleans and mobile, but the thought of having high quality, fast, alternative ways to get across the region is one of my top priorities. for years people have heard of rail between baton rouge and new orleans and now we have an opportunity to make it a reality. we're excited about that. can you talk about the status of establishing rail? >> yes, sir. and welcome aboard, congressman. we're glad to have you. >> thank you, sir. >> yesterday in new orleans we committed to an initial roundtrip between baton rouge and new orleans with no capacity investment needed, and they also committed to looking at a second roundtrip. it's just they have to have time to evaluate to see what capacity improvements have to be done to implement that service. this is a historic move. and we've been working very hard
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with canadian pacific to create a good partnership that can be beneficial for baton rouge, new orleans, shreveport, the i-20 corridor, and they have committed to work with us on all of those services. baton rouge, new orleans, is going to happen. and cp have committed to that and have committed to that in their filing. yesterday was a historic day for that. we were very excited about it. it shows the benefit of commissions because we were able to hold that project together when louisiana and the previous administration refused the money to build this project. >> we remember that all too well. >> yes, sir. we do, too. >> i cannot tell you how grateful i am to you, mr. ross, and the southern rail commission for the incredible work that you do and continue to do to hold this project together.
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we were disappointed when the previous administration under mr. jindal rejected those resources and we missed a great opportunity. so grateful we're back on track and this will be a reality for the people of louisiana. >> congressman, i would be remiss, the person who has held this together, would be my fellow commissioner john spain. he has been instrumental in using the southern rail commission to keep this alive and across administrations, across d.o.t., and i think it demonstrates that these multistate commissions work. >> let me join you in giving a huge shoutout. he's been a great advocate and friend and has given me briefings on this pro jex and has been a stalwart. real quickly, let me ask you
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this, are there any obstacles out there, anything we can do from congress or from this transportation led by my very able chairman, mr. payne, that we can do to assist in advancing this critical issue for the people of louisiana? >> well, you've put the funding in place with the transportation bill. this is a huge step forward for us. and we will be using, in my testimony i talked about the different programs we will be using. the individual cities have put up money for stations and bought station sites. i think you all have put the pieces in place to get this done. it's up to us to put the puzzle together to make it work. we believe we can do that. >> i stand on the ready to do anything that i can do to be a bridge to pull any of that together now that we've put the
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funding in place to be an additional resource. i mentioned this is one of my number one priorities recognizing the huge impact it will have environmentally, economically and all the way around for the people of louisiana, this is a huge win and i'm so proud to be here to thank you, to thank john and the entire commission for the yeoman effort and president biden for putting forth this that's given us the opportunity to have the kind of resource that is we can do things that have long been talked about but never actually done. so this is a great day. thank you very much. i yield back, mr. chairman. >> the gentleman yields back. next we will have the gentleman from massachusetts, mr. lynch, for five minutes. >> i thank you very much, mr. chairman. i have two competing hearings going on, so i have to jump off every once in a while. i do want to say thank you to
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all of our witnesses for attending and i was very pleased, it warmed my heart to hear mr. gardner talk about working with his employees and his unions, the rail unions. when i voted for the transportation and infrastructure bill, i felt i was keeping faith with my railworkers and i was keeping faith with my rail unions that advocated for a lot of the things in that bill. i just hope you as operators remember that going forward that we expect our railworkers and rail unions to be treated fairly. i was also keeping faith with president biden. i don't think there's been anyone in government ever in the history of this country so closely affiliated with travel by rail, and i was keeping faith with my environmental activists
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because they see rail and the future of rail as being one of the solutions as a cleaner and greener solution to one of our big challenges on climate change. and i was keeping faith with my housing activists. now you might not think that is a natural connection but with the challenges that i have in the city of boston with hughesing, one of our big solutions, and i've been working with mr. neal, if we make it comfortable and a good experience it will open up a much wider area for affordable housing connected to the jobs mostly in the greater boston area. we see that as being a real opportunity. so i just want to thank you for your work.
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i do believe in a national system so have listened keenly to the concerns of the southeast rail coalition and my partners in the midwest and down in texas and in california, and i really do believe we have to work on this together. i'm not just talking about improvements and access on the northeast corridor, although that is important because of the volume of passengers. i do want to work on this together. one of the reasons, and i'm not going to ask anybody any questions so you can relax on that, one of the reasons that i asked to be a member of this committee, the transportation and infrastructure committee, is because when you look across congress, it was one of the last bastions of bipartisanship where we worked together and did the
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right thing on behalf of the american people. and i was dying for some of that because of what else was going on. so i hope that we -- and i'm talking to my colleagues -- my colleagues across the aisle and my colleagues in the majority and all of you -- i hope we can put some of the divisiveness away. i was not encouraged by the markup we had on this bill. it was purely infrastructure and it was really an opportunity for us to come together. that's why i came to this committee, i want to work with my colleagues across the aisle, to help them on their issues in their districts. itches an ironworker for about 0 years, president of my union. i traveled quite a bit and i see the infrastructure needs of this
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entire country. so just a word of hope, i guess, and i give great credit to pete defazio. they try to set the right example antone so we work together. i hope to get back to that. america needs us. america needs us. i think we should try to rise to the highest expectations of the american people than bickering and fighting. and transportation and infrastructure and rail give us an opportunity to do something good for the american people and really build a public platform for private investments. with that, mr. chairman, i yield back and i thank you for the opportunity. >> well, i thank the gentleman. it was perfect. one second left. we appreciate it.
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now we will have the gentleman from arizona, mr. stanton, for five minutes. >> mr. chairman, thank you very much, and thank you for the topic that is critically important to the people of my state of arizona. i wanted to be here because arizona and phoenix and tucson in particular were the largest cities in the united states without access to passenger rail service. as other communities have gained access to passenger rail, experienced significant economic opportunity as well. but arizona has missed out thus far. i'm hopeful that will change. amtrak has proposed connecting arizona's two large and fast growing metropolitan areas, phoenix and tucson, with frequent and reliable passenger rail service.
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that means opportunity for the people of arizona, to connect our communities, make them more accessible and productive and more interfashionly competitive. the opportunity to boost our regional economies with better access to jobs and more private investment along the route, to ease congestion along interstate 10 and help reduce air pollution. arizonians have wanted passenger train service between phoenix and tucson for decades. so it is no surprise this proposal has already generated significant support. i would like to include for the record, their letters of support. >> without objection. >> i have a question for mr.
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gardner, president of amtrak. the infrastructure plan that was passed by this congress invested in passenger rail, and amtrak ceo called the bill absolutely transformational. that means the american people, we have big expectations. mr. gardner, given the lack of passenger rail between tucson and phoenix and the strong local and regional support for the project as well as significant resources provided to get the job done under the infrastructure law, what steps is amtrak taking to develop the tucson, phoenix west valley rail line? >> thank you, congressman. we share your enthusiasm for this corridor.
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phoenix is the fifth largest in the nation and not directly served by amtrak. those are what we need to address and we're so excited by the investment and ability to do so. the next steps to develop this plan for development we will be providing all of our input, all of the underlying data to them. we are looking to advance partnerships with nevada and the two big cities and other communities to start taking our planning and moving it to the next level of granularity. as you know we've got an existing civic route that heads to phoenix that needs to be upgraded for service. we have existing route that we operate over on today, tucson to the east.
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so we have part of that route in place and what we need to do is focus in on the western portion to get us to phoenix. we are all in on this project in terms of our excitement and enthusiasm and are ready to partner with communities to start the next phase of planning and be ready to go after opportunities with the federal administration as they move to grant funding and the further planning stages. >> that's great. i will help be your partner when it comes to advocating for this line. i know amtrak will keep its word as you were advocating for passage to get the job done. i think a fair question would be assuming we're successful in the grant process and getting that approval process through the federal government, assuming amtrak keeps its word about advancing the playing process what would be the timing, best case scenario, the timing of
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beginning this critically important line? >> i think we have some more work to do before we can know that exactly. a lot will depend on union pacific, the owner of the railway and the need to upgrade. we've heard from communities about investing in stations. that will be critically important and something that could happen soon, but we need to work with that host railroad union pacific to get a good plan forward. i think that's a critical step is getting pacific onboard to advance the service and that's going to really set the pace for the overall service. we'll be working on our side to make sure we have the equipment ready and the other things that we can bring. we need that willing host railroad partner. >> my time is up. i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman for yielding back. and that concludes our hearing for today. i would like to, again, thank each of the witnesses for your testimony today.
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i ask unanimous consent the record of today's hearing remain open until such time as our witnesses have provided answers to any questions that may be submitted to them in writing and ask unanimous consent the record remain open for 15 days for any additional comments and information submitted by members or witnesses to be included in the record for today's hearing. without objection, so ordered. and with that, the subcommittee stands adjourned. >> n ow
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