Congressman Bill Pascrell

Representing the 9th District of NEW JERSEY

Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008

Jun 11, 2008
Floor Speech



Click image to open in Windows Media Player.

Mr. PASCRELL . Mr. Chairman, the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 is a great piece of legislation. I want to commend Chairman Oberstar and Chairwoman Corrine Brown. I know how hard you worked on this the last several years, both of you, and of course, Ranking Member Mica and Mr. Shuster from Pennsylvania.

   The need for a strong, national passenger railroad system grows daily. The price of oil has reached $140 per barrel.

   On the ground, congestion on our interstates mounts with increases of commuters and the movement of goods. In the air, many of our Nation's airlines are cutting back the number of planes and, therefore, the capacity by 10 to 20 percent. The American people need and deserve an alternative to driving their automobiles and traveling by airplane.

   This legislation would bolster the fortunes of our intercity passenger rail system and put Amtrak on the path to success.

   In addition to procuring new rolling stock and meeting its labor commitments, under this bill Amtrak would be able to make needed improvements to the heavily trafficked Northeast Corridor, NEC.

   My home State of New Jersey and Amtrak have had an interesting, symbiotic relationship. The Northeast Corridor rail operations are important for New Jersey's economic growth and our competitiveness, as the NEC is the spine for New Jersey Transit's commuter rail system. Both Mr. Oberstar and Mr. Mica have come, seen. They understand what the situation is in terms of our relationship to economic growth. Eighty percent of all New Jersey Transit riders use the Northeast Corridor, nearly 200,000 daily trips.

   New Jersey Transit is the major operator on the NEC, operating 385 trains per day to Newark, New York, and the 30th Street Philadelphia Station, as compared to Amtrak's 110 daily trains.

   The CHAIRMAN. The time of the gentleman from New Jersey has expired.

   Mr. OBERSTAR. I yield the gentleman 30 additional seconds.

   Mr. PASCRELL . Accordingly, the State of New Jersey has invested more than $1.8 billion in the NEC for Amtrak stations like the Newark Airport Station, as well as for capital investments that benefit both Amtrak and New Jersey.

   This is a great relationship. New Jersey's putting up its money, and the Federal Government now is leveraging that money. This is what it is all about, if we could get States to partner in what we're trying to do. That's why I commend the leadership on both sides.

   New Jersey has a major interest in the success of the corridor. This stake will increase going forward as we work with Amtrak , the FTA, the FRA to build this critical infrastructure. The new tunnel that we're going to invest in through the Hudson River is just another way.

   I want to thank both sides for this great legislation. I wish you both well.