Amtrak: GOP budget would cut NC rail service
Posted September 8, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. — The Piedmont train, which runs daily between Raleigh and Charlotte, would reach the end of the line if Congress approves a Republican-backed budget plan, Amtrak officials said Thursday.
A proposal by a House appropriations subcommittee would prohibit using Amtrak's federal funding to operate state-supported train service. Amtrak said the idea, if approved, would eliminate about 150 weekday trains in 15 states.
"The GOP plan penalizes states that have made investments in passenger rail, some of which have contributed toward costs for nearly 40 years," Amtrak board Chairman Tom Carper said in a statement. "It kills an engine of local and regional economic growth much needed today, harms the future economic vitality of the nation and is unnecessary."
The North Carolina Department of Transportation jointly operates the Piedmont with Amtrak to provide round-trip service twice daily between Raleigh and Charlotte. The train also stops in Cary, Durham and the Piedmont Triad.
In the 2010 fiscal year, about 100,000 people rode the train, according to Amtrak.
Without the Piedmont, the only daily rail service between the cities would be the Carolinian train, which runs between Charlotte and New York.
"The Republican proposal forces an unwelcome decision on states who clearly want to preserve and expand passenger rail service," Carper said.
Under legislation passed by Congress in 2008, Amtrak is working with the 15 states to develop a plan to shift more of the operating and capital costs to the states.