House subcommitee to hold hearing on Amtrak

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WASHINGTON — A hearing Wednesday to be held by the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials is expected to provide a forum for state operating authorities, unions, and the Rail Passengers Association to directly air concerns to lawmakers about the way current Amtrak management conducts its business.

“Amtrak Now and Into the Future will examine recent service changes implemented by Amtrak and consider the needs of the nation’s intercity passenger railroad to sustain and strengthen its existing network,” according to a statement released by subcommittee chairman Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.) and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.).

Amtrak President and CEO Richard Anderson is scheduled to appear. Trains News Wire has learned six other witnesses will provide different perspectives on how company policies are impacting the constituencies they represent. They include:

— Oregon state legislator Nancy Nathanson

— San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority Executive Director Stacey Mortenson

— Rail Passengers Association President and CEO Jim Mathews

— AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department Secretary-Treasurer Greg Regan

— Transportation Communications Union National Vice President Jack Dinsdale

— Sheet Metal Air Rail Transportation Division Illinois Director Bob Guy     

Topics likely to be addressed are Amtrak’s decision to reduce on-board food service options for coach and sleeping car passengers on its eastern trains; elimination of station agents and checked baggage service; Anderson’s stated intention to truncate long distance routes into disconnected short corridors; and the requirement that when buying a ticket, passengers are required to accept arbitration to settle disputes with Amtrak, rather than having the ability to sue.

It is also possible that questions regarding a recently filed lawsuit over Amtrak’s lease of HHP-8 locomotives may be raised by Subcommittee members. [See “Amtrak sued over lease of retired locomotives,” Trains News Wire, Nov. 12, 2019.]

The hearing will take place at 10 a.m. EST and will be live streamed here. It will be going on at the same time as the nationally televised Presidential Impeachment Inquiry hearings held elsewhere at the U.S. Capitol.  

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