Tentative Deal Should Keep Amtrak, and Mail, Rolling

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Amtrak said late last week that it had not accepted all of the conditions of a tentative bailout agreement with the Bush administration, but it expected a deal would come together in a few days.

The U.S. Transportation Department and Amtrak reached a tentative agreement, averting a threatened June 26 shutdown of the rail line unless it received a $200 million loan.

Under the proposed deal, Amtrak would get an immediate $100 million loan from the U.S. Treasury. Within weeks, the Transportation Department would ask Congress for a loan or direct grant of another $100 million to $170 million, which would carry Amtrak through the end of the fiscal year. Though congressional leaders said the second loan probably would be approved, there was no agreement on how much Amtrak would receive in the next fiscal year, beginning Oct. 1.

In return, Amtrak would agree to conditions that include improving its financial reporting and banning salary raises and bonuses for executives through Sept. 30. Those conditions were already being observed, Amtrak officials said.

Amtrak handles 5 percent of the U.S. Postal Service's mail, with most of that volume coming from First-Class mail and periodicals moving along the East Coast from Washington to Boston.


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