Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HR0751
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Full Text of HR0751  101st General Assembly




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2    WHEREAS, The U.S. Congress created Amtrak under the Rail
3Passenger Service Act of 1970 (Public Law 91–158), and Amtrak
4began serving customers on May 1, 1971, taking over the
5operation of most intercity passenger trains in exchange for
6access to the national rail network; and
7    WHEREAS, Congress passed the Amtrak Improvement Act of 1973
8(Public Law 93–146), which gives intercity and commuter rail
9passenger transportation preference over freight
10transportation in using a rail line, junction, or crossing, a
11right codified as section 24308(c) of title 49, United States
12Code; and
13    WHEREAS, U.S.C. Sec. 24308(c) of Title 49 states, "Except
14in an emergency, intercity and commuter rail passenger
15transportation provided by or for Amtrak has preference over
16freight transportation in using a rail line, junction, or
17crossing unless the [Surface Transportation] Board orders
18otherwise under this subsection. A rail carrier affected by
19this subsection may apply to the Board for relief. If the
20Board, after an opportunity for a hearing under section 553 of
21title 5, decides that preference for intercity and commuter
22rail passenger transportation materially will lessen the
23quality of freight transportation provided to shippers, the



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1Board shall establish the rights of the carrier and Amtrak on
2reasonable terms"; and
3    WHEREAS, Many host railroads have ignored the law by
4refusing to give passenger rail the priority to which it is
5statutorily entitled, resulting in poor and declining on-time
6performance by Amtrak on most host railroads; according to
7Amtrak during fiscal year 2019 alone, this caused 6.5 million
8customers on state-supported and long-distance trains to
9arrive at their destination late; and
10    WHEREAS, Amtrak's Office of Inspector General, in a 2019
11report, showed poor on-time performance wastes taxpayer
12dollars to the extent that a mere five percent improvement on
13all Amtrak routes would result in $12.1 million in cost savings
14to Amtrak in the first year; if on-time performance on
15long-distance routes reached 75 percent for a year, Amtrak
16would realize an estimated $41.9 million in operating cost
17savings along with a one-time savings of $336 million due to a
18reduction in equipment replacement needs; and
19    WHEREAS, On-time passenger rail performance on host
20railroads has historically been driven by the existence of an
21effective means to enforce Amtrak's preference rights as shown
22historically by:
23        (1) Enactment of the Passenger Rail Investment and



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1    Improvement Act (PRIIA) of 2008 (division B of Public Law
2    110–432), which included provisions for the enforcement of
3    these preference rights:
4            (a) Two months afterward, the on-time performance
5    of long-distance trains improved from 56 percent to 77
6    percent and Class I freight train interference delays
7    across all routes declined by 40 percent; and
8            (b) One year after enactment of PRIIA, freight
9    train interference delays had declined by 54 percent, and
10    the on-time performance of long-distance trains reached 85
11    percent; and
12        (2) Removal in 2014 of some of those provisions after
13    being ruled unconstitutional by a Washington, D.C.,
14    Circuit Court: long-distance train on-time performance
15    declined from 72 percent to 50 percent, and freight train
16    interference delays increased 59 percent; and
17    WHEREAS, As a result of violations of Amtrak's right to
18preference, Amtrak has been consistently unable on host
19railroad networks to meet its Congressionally-mandated mission
20and goals and does not have an effective mechanism to enforce
21its statutory preference right in order to fulfill its mission
22and goals; and
23    WHEREAS, Only the United States Attorney General can bring
24a civil action for equitable relief in a district court of the



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1United States to enforce Amtrak's preference rights but has
2done so just once in Amtrak's entire history, against the
3Southern Pacific Transportation Company in 1979; therefore, be
7we support a strong intercity passenger rail network and
8support the passage of U.S. S.2922, the proposed "Rail
9Passenger Fairness Act", providing Amtrak the ability to
10enforce its preference rights by bringing a civil action before
11a federal district court (the so-called "private right of
12action"); and be it further
13    RESOLVED, That we urge the Illinois Congressional
14Delegation to support S.2922; and be it further
15    RESOLVED, That suitable copies of this resolution be
16delivered to each member of the Illinois Congressional