Amtrak attack threatens Railroad Retirement

February 15, 2011

WASHINGTON — The House Appropriations Committee this week will consider a proposal to cut more than $200 million from Amtrak’s current fiscal year 2011 federal subsidy, which could result in reductions of Amtrak service and layoffs of Amtrak workers.

Also under consideration by the House Appropriations Committee is eliminating all federal funding to states for high-speed rail projects.

Should the committee approve those cuts, they still would face a vote on the House floor and in the Senate.

Amtrak carried 2.1 million passengers in January — the 15th straight month of ridership growth – and 4.6 percent more passengers than in January 2010.

A cessation of Amtrak service — proposed by the most fiscally conservative of Republican House members — would have a devastating impact on the Railroad Retirement system.

Amtrak’s almost 20,000 workforce represents some 9 percent of the some 220,000 active rail workers nationwide, who pay — along with their employers — into Railroad Retirement. Tier II of Railroad Retirement, funded solely by rail employees and employers, would suffer a significant loss were Amtrak eliminated, putting Tier II in immediate jeopardy.