From the Midwest High Speed Rail Association

September marks the beginning of a debate concerning the future of transportation in the United States – a debate that will determine whether we choose to invest in a world-class transportation system, or continue down our current path, which serves no one’s best interest.

Since its inception, the High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program has seen 39 states apply for funds, resulting in the creation of thousands of jobs. Unfortunately, just as passenger rail projects are generating economic growth across the country, these successful programs are under attack. We need your help to protect these important investments in America’s future!

Members of the Transportation-HUD House Appropriations committee have passed a proposal that will zero-out high-speed rail funding in the 2012 budget and cut funding for Amtrak’s budget to unsustainable levels. It also restricts Amtrak from using federal operating subsidies to support state-sponsored rail lines. This would result in the elimination of 150 weekly trains in 15 states and would negatively impact the more than nine-million passengers who ride those trains each year. States that would be penalized for investing in passenger rail include California, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

This is a direct attack on America’s passenger rail program. While progress must be made toward reaching a balanced budget, failing to fully fund these critically important programs will jeopardize the nation’s future economic prosperity and the mobility of its people.

The U.S. is at an economic crossroads in which it is vital to address our long-term stability, while spurring short-term economic growth. This requires a set of responsible national priorities that do two things – create jobs and bolster economic growth. A high-speed rail network that connects our regional economies, our businesses and our workers is a national priority that is worth fighting for. Good transportation is a human and economic need, not something to be turned into a political issue.

We need your help to send a message to Washington that Americans need and want a stronger national passenger rail system. Please send a message to your elected officials and ask them to fund the High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program at no less than $2.5 billion to match levels in FY2010, and to fully fund Amtrak’s request of $2.25 billion.