Washington lawmakers were warned by Amtrak President and CEO Richard Anderson that the railroad will have to cut $100 million to $125 million a month if it does not receive up to $1.4 billion in federal funding. That is equivalent to trimming the daily workload of 17,000 train operators and agents by 20 percent, a period in which Amtrak operates 16,000 trains daily.
Mr. Anderson, during his testimony on Capitol Hill before the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials, said that the railroad, which operates trains between New York and Washington, D.C., was operating in an “extremely challenging” funding environment, in which the company was looking for additional “transition support” to help get through the near-term uncertainty.
Amtrak also said that it has no more cash on hand to cover its operating deficit, and would need to use $66 million of that for financial repair reserves over the next eight months.
“Without further assistance in the form of a transitional savings account and other capital projects over the next nine months, we will be forced to operate on our 2019 operating plan which will be a severely disrupted schedule and will leave most passengers affected,” Mr. Anderson said.
There has been widespread concern that lawmakers would not grant an extension to funding proposed by the Trump administration for Amtrak and the Department of Transportation.
Trump administration proposal would have cut federal aid by $900 million from 2018 to 2020, forcing funding cuts to projects including an Amtrak rail line between Boston and Springfield, a passenger rail line in Denver and a passenger rail line between Boston and Pittsburgh.
Politicians — both Republicans and Democrats — have criticized the plan and raised concerns that it would make long-term funding for trains more difficult. Democratic Rep. Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts said there is still no certainty on Trump’s proposal.
The Trump administration plan also created uncertainty for the government subsidies that lawmakers send to Amtrak to pay for such things as overtime pay for maintenance crews and funding for new cars.
Amtrak also says it needs $900 million to keep the current funding level for about three months. Mr. Anderson also confirmed during his testimony that Amtrak was experiencing problems accessing loan guarantees for new trains and other capital projects.