deadline for shutting down Amtrak is here but trains are still
running. The railroad's administration officials and lawmakers,
who are trying to solve the railroad's money problems, say the
trains will run at least through the beginning of the Independence
Day holiday weekend.
Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta vows the government will
continue efforts to avoid a shutdown of services. So how much
money does the railroad need to keep going? Amtrak President David
Gunn has said the passenger railroad needs $200 million to keep
operating through Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year.
One of many
options broached by Mineta, Gunn said, was to mortgage Chicago's
Union Station, which Amtrak owns.
of both parties, meanwhile, are trying to include $205 million
for Amtrak in a supplemental spending bill now being negotiated
by the Senate, House and Bush administration. Sen. Robert Byrd
(D-WV), Senate Appropriations Committee chairman, pointed out
that the railroad is a critical alternative to highways and airways.
Chairman Michael Dukakis said an easier solution would be for
the Federal Railroad Administration to endorse Amtrak's request
for a loan guarantee. Gunn said Mineta proposed a loan guarantee
to help Amtrak get about $100 million - half the amount it says