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BLET Urges Investment In Amtrak At Senate Hearing

At a Senate subcommittee hearing on April 17, John Tolman, Vice President and National Legislative Representative of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), made a strong case for the U.S. to make a major investment in Amtrak — particularly along the Northeast Corridor — for the expansion of service and high-speed rail.

Tolman outlined for the Senators how congestion on our nation’s highways has increased, and that by 2020 more than 90 percent of them will be at or over capacity. He testified before the Surface Transportation Subcommittee of the Senate's Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

“The solution to these problems lies right before our eyes: improvement to passenger rail funding on the Northeast Corridor is necessary for the expansion of service,” Tolman said. “We should try and catch up with the percentage of funding that Europe and Asian countries have allocated.”

The primary vehicle for funding would be the reauthorization of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) which the Teamsters Rail Conference supports as an answer for Amtrak to attain stable, long-term funding levels.

“Ridership trends demonstrate that people are willing to opt to take trains in areas with reliable and frequent service,” Tolman said.  “Unionized men and women working on the railroads are at work every day to ensure the safety and well-being of rail passengers. But, because continued funding for Amtrak operations is still tentative, we must recognize the importance of rail travel and how it reduces pollution and congestion on our highways.”

BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce thanked Vice President Tolman for representing the Brotherhood at the hearing.

To read Tolman’s full, written testimony, click here.