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Back from the brink

01 May 2002

HAVING instigated a game of 'chicken' with Congress over funding for its long-distance trains, it was Amtrak that blinked first. George Warrington, who is stepping down as President to join New Jersey Transit, announced on April 5 that he would not, after all, file the required 180-day notice for withdrawal of 18 long-distance trains (RG 3.02 p109).

Warrington had received no assurance that Congress would provide the requested extra funds to keep the trains running, but in a letter to the governors of the 46 states that Amtrak serves, he said he had decided to back down after seeing encouraging signs coming from Washington. He warned that the 'uncertainties associated with the legislative process' could still mean that overnight trains are at risk. He also said he had reconsidered the 180-day requirement and believed it did not apply 'in circumstances like this, where train service rests on the availability of federal appropriations.'