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Senators Push for Amtrak Loan

Democratic senators from New York, New Jersey and Delaware are demanding that the Bush administration provide loan guarantees to Amtrak to cover a $200 million shortfall and keep trains running.

Meanwhile, Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-NJ, said yesterday that Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta assured him that the Bush administration will find a way to resolve the troubled rail network's financial crisis, The Associated Press reported yesterday.

Amtrak is threatening to shut down rail passenger service nationwide later this week unless the Bush administration approves a $200 million loan guarantee or Congress nears passage of a direct appropriation or loan guarantee.

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.

The Federal Railroad Administrator, which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, is reviewing Amtrak's request for a loan guarantee. If the railroad administration were to rule that Amtrak does not qualify for a loan guarantee, the only options would be a congressional appropriation or an order by lawmakers that the agency grant one.

The senators — Torricelli and Jon Corzine of New Jersey, Charles Schumer of New York and Joseph Biden of Delaware — warned that inaction would throw the New York region into chaos.

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