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RAILROADS ANNOUNCE POLICY ON HIGH SPEED RAIL

 WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. freight railroads, owners of the majority of this country's rail rights-of-way, today moved the probability of nationwide high-speed rail passenger service closer to reality by unanimously endorsing the concept.
 At a media briefing held at Amtrak headquarters, Edwin L. Harper, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads, joined W. Graham Claytor Jr., president of Amtrak, the nation's intercity passenger railroad, in pledging rail industry cooperation in the advancement of high-speed rail passenger service.
 "America's railroads are ready to play a critical role in helping the nation solve problems of highway congestion and carnage, air pollution and public-budget shortfalls," said Harper.
 He added that virtually all railroad track except for the Northeast Corridor is privately owned and financed by freight railroads.
 "Unlike interstate highways and bridges, rail facilities are not congested and are in excellent condition," noted Claytor. "Since many railroad routes have excess capacity and because railroads are more fuel efficient, more friendly to the environment and safer than truck and automobile transportation, the public interest is served by encouraging growth in rail transportation such as high-speed rail passenger service."
 Freight railroads have not operated passenger services since the early 1970s, when Congress created Amtrak, which today serves 45 states and carries 21 million passengers annually. Among rail passenger carriers throughout the world, Amtrak is one of the most efficient, recovering 79 percent of its operating costs from the farebox. Although Amtrak owns the Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston, it leases from freight railroads operating rights over track throughout the rest of the United States.
 A rail industry policy statement released at the press briefing makes the following points:
 -- America's freight railroads are ready to cooperate in the extension and advance of high-speed rail passenger service, as well as in other passenger services.
 -- There are distinct types of passenger services: commuter, conventional intercity (Amtrak), high-speed and ultra high-speed. These differences must be understood because they control the extent to which rail freight and passenger operations can operate over the same rights-of-way.
 -- The formation of partnerships among railroads and sponsors of new passenger rail projects will benefit the public.
 -- The full costs of changes in existing freight rail operations to accommodate new passenger operations must be borne by the entity sponsoring the new service.
 -- Freight railroads must be indemnified and insured against any and all financial liability arising from accidents affecting passenger services.
 "For most of the 20th century, public policy has emphasized highway and airline transportation," said Harper. "With both highways and airports facing massive capacity problems, and the nation committed to solutions that are environmentally friendly, railroads are seen once again as the engine of progress. For carrying both freight and passengers, railroads are ready to provide a world-class service," he added.
 -0- 2/3/93
 /CONTACT: Carol B. Perkins of the Association of American Railroads, 202-659-2552/


CO: Association of American Railroads; Amtrak ST: District of Columbia IN: TRN SU:

KD -- DC014X -- 2357 02/03/93 11:43 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Feb 3, 1993
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