Shuster: Take ‘baby steps’ toward Amtrak privatization

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Shuster was speaking at an event sponsored by National Journal.

He said that “there’s interest out there” in the private sector about operating rail service in density populated areas of the U.S. like the northeast.

“If you look what’s happening in Europe today, the EU has mandated that on every passenger rail, there has to be competition,” he said. “So our friends in Europe have figured out the magic of competition and what it can do to improve all different types of industries.”

Lawmakers in Congress are expected to consider a Passenger Rail Investment and Act (PRIIA), which is the bill that traditionally authorizes Amtrak’s funding. Amtrak usually receives about $1 billion annually in subsidies from the federal goverment.
 
Shuster has pushed to privatize Amtrak service in the northeast before, but he said when he first became Transportation Committee Chairman that he hoped to find “common ground” with rail supporters.

He said Thursday that the “private sector is not going to come in if they don’t get a return on their investment, so that’s something we’re going to figure out.”

But he also declared that “Amtrak is not going away.”