U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR), the Ranking Member of the Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee, and other Republican Members of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee today requested information from Amtrak regarding the Biden campaign’s use of the taxpayer-funded rail service, and whether the campaign received any special treatment, interfered with freight train operations, or diverted critical resources from the struggling passenger rail service’s normal operations.
The letter to Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer William Flynn was sent by Ranking Member Crawford and T&I Committee members U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH), U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), and U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA).
The Biden campaign has used Amtrak in its activities and portrayal of its candidate, including a recent Amtrak charter train on a tour through Pennsylvania and Ohio that included multiple campaign stops. The Republican Members requested information about the campaign’s use of Amtrak, noting that “Amtrak’s guidelines for operating charter trains include requirements that the use of Amtrak’s resources will not impact its regular operations, and that the train ‘must generate sufficient financial benefit for Amtrak to justify the Amtrak resources and assets’.”
“Amtrak has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with widespread cuts to service, approximately 2,000 employees out of work, and potentially more job cuts to come. Already known for a lack of efficiency and cost-effectiveness, Amtrak’s taxpayer-provided resources are spread extremely thin right now, making its mission even more difficult to fulfill,” said Crawford. “We need to be sure that Amtrak’s resources and services have not been negatively impacted purely to benefit a political candidate. Furthermore, we need to be sure that private freight railroads, who operate on the same lines as Amtrak and are critical to shipments of PPEs, medical supplies, and many other essential goods, have not been needlessly delayed.”
The letter from Crawford and other Members requests answers to a number of questions to Amtrak, including the cost to Amtrak of operating the Biden charter train in terms of equipment, resources, and salaries; the total cost paid to Amtrak by the Biden campaign, and whether the campaign received any financial discounts, reduced rates, or special treatment as Amtrak registers record losses; and whether the charter received any track preference or delayed any of Amtrak’s regular passenger service or freight operations.
The full letter to Amtrak is available here.
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