WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Amtrak Board Chair Praises Funding Stability

Aug 28, 2012

The head of the Amtrak Board of Directors said the service has benefited from funding stability in recent years.

Chairman Tom Carper, who is a former mayor of Macomb, said it's been crucial to Amtrak's planning to have the threat of cuts removed.

“We've had stability in the last three years, and lo and behold, what's happened? We're building railroads in the Midwest,” Carper said.

He also pointed out ridership is up.

Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said he would eliminate the federal subsidy for Amtrak if he is elected. Carper believes Romney simply needs to become better acquainted with the service.

“The skeptics, if they lived here they wouldn't be skeptics. There aren't many skeptics in west central Illinois, in my opinion, in Galesburg and Macomb and Quincy. I think the skeptics are people who don't have service,” Carper said.

Carper hoped that once the rhetoric of the campaign is over, Amtrak will enjoy support from whomever is elected president.

Amtrak received $1.5 billion in federal funding in 2010.

Carper also said Illinois is still on track to receive new double-decker rail cars for the in-state routes beginning in 2015. The new cars will offer wi-fi service and other features.