3349 Southgate CT SW #108
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52404-5424 
or Henry Wulff 515-276-8888



(Urbandale, Iowa)- "Iowa needs more Amtrak service, not less," says Henry 
Wulff, President of the Iowa Association of Railroad Passengers (IARP). "The 
service we have now is at risk. The future expansions we want to see may 
never occur in the new plan."

"We're very disappointed," says Wulff, "in the Administration's new plans for 
passenger rail." Wulff was reacting to remarks made by Norman Y. Mineta, 
Secretary of Transportation, before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today 
(Thursday) outlining administration plans for rail passenger service in the 

The Secretary's first recommendation was to "...decide how and where to fund 
and operate intercity passenger rail while separately deciding whether to 
fund and operate high speed rail."  IARP has long contended that both long 
distance and high speed passenger trains are needed for a balanced rail 
transportation system.  

Wulff questioned the first principle suggested by Mineta, that "prices and 
passengers...should drive service."  

Wulff says, "This is not the standard used in supporting the airline 
industry.  Airlines, which lost as much money as Amtrak, received government 
support rather than pressure to shutdown their service.  If highway users 
where held to this standard, many of Iowa's roads would still be mud paths."

Transitioning Amtrak into a pure operating company would eliminate Amtrak's 
control of train movements, especially in the northeast corridor.  Much of 
Amtrak's delays in the west are due to the host railroads, who give their 
freight trains priority over Amtrak's passenger trains.  Freight railroads 
can even abandon track, causing Amtrak communities to lose service, as may 
soon be the case in Kansas where BNSF has threatened abandonment of Amtrak's 
Southwest Chief route through Dodge City, Kansas, and Raton, New Mexico.  The 
New Mexico stop serves thousands of Boy Scouts every summer.  

Wulff says, "Instead of relinquishing control of track, Amtrak should be 
seeking to gain control of track, such as the Southwest Chief's route."

"The 'market principles' Secretary Mineta envisions would end long distance 
train service between Chicago and the West Coast," Wulff says.  These trains 
provide basic transportation for average Americans, many of whom reside in 
cities with no other common carrier link to a national transportation system. 
 Only one Iowa Amtrak city has any airline service.  Some don't even have a 
bus connection.  Amtrak provides their only non-highway link to the outside 

"The final principle," Wulff says, "'that passenger trains complement and 
connect to other passenger modes,'is a worthwhile goal.  It should be the 
heart of a national multi-modal transportation system."

Alternative sourcing of system-wide support services was also suggested.  
Unfortunately, Amtrak initiated this policy by changing its food service to 
"airline food."  No longer can you get the regional specialties.  Every day's 
menu is the same on every train, with only one difference on the dinner menu. 

Finally, Mineta laments the 30 year capital investment problem.  In 30 years 
Amtrak has received about $25 billion dollars.  Last year alone the airline 
industry received its customary $13 billion, plus $5 billion in cash, plus $5 
billion in guaranteed loans.  Amtrak received a little over $521 million.  
And now Amtrak has the audacity to ask for $200 million in loan guarantees? 

If the Administration refuses to assist Amtrak with the current crisis, or 
refuses to provide more than $521 million for FY 2003, it won't have to deal 
with the passenger rail issue.  

Passenger rail will be dead.

What is IARP's solution?

First, the federal government must immediately either provide or guarantee 
the $200 million Amtrak needs to complete the current fiscal year.

Second, when Congress reauthorizes the Transportation Bill in 2003, it must 
also include a comprehensive national transportation policy that includes 
passenger rail, with appropriate funding mechanisms to adequately fund a 
truly national passenger rail system.

Third, Congress should provide adequate oversight to be sure that federal 
funds are spent according to the plan.

Wulff says, "We need a national system and it will require substantial 
federal support. We need to have a multiple mode transportation system in 
place which provides for the future needs of Iowans and those who travel to 
Iowa. Expanded rail passenger service needs to be part of that mix."

Wulff says the Iowa Association of Railroad Passengers is a statewide 
non-profit group that supports rail service, both passenger and freight. 
Wulff also says the group meets at various locations throughout the state. 
Previous recent meeting sites have included Des Moines, Osceola, Burlington, 
and Mount Pleasant.

The Iowa Association of Railroad Passengers sponsored Rally-for-Rail meetings 
last month in all six cities served by Amtrak. More than 300 persons attended 
those meetings.

The group was also a co-sponsor of a multi-state meeting on rail passenger 
service in Chicago in April, 2001.

The organization is affiliated with the National Association of Railroad 
Passengers in Washington, D.C.

Membership information is available by writing to the Iowa Association of 
Railroad Passengers, 3349 Southgate Court, SW, Suite #108, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 
52404-5424 or by calling (319) 362-6824 or going to the group's website at