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Amtrak: News Release - May 18, 1999: Amtrak ceremony marks early repayment of Texas Eagle loan from State of Texas News & Views
National Railroad Passenger Corporation
60 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E., Fourth Floor
Washington, D.C. 20002-4285

May 18, 1999
Contact: Derrick James


Success of Public-Private Partnership Signals Amtrak's Business Turnaround

AUSTIN-Amtrak today made early repayment to the state of Texas of the loan the state provided the corporation in 1997 to maintain operation of its Texas Eagle train. Amtrak President and CEO George Warrington joined U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in Austin to present Governor George W. Bush and state officials with a ceremonial check for $5.6 million, the amount loaned the corporation.

"Amtrak is proud to be fulfilling its obligation to the citizens of Texas," said Warrington. "Not only are we paying the loan back in full and on time, but our payment is early and we are operating an expanded Texas Eagle service today." The Eagle success story would not have been possible without the dedication of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas state officials and the many mayors along the Texas Eagle route.

The bridge loan was executed through the Texas Department of Transportation and allowed Amtrak time to develop its Mail and Express business and improve marketing efforts for the train with the assistance of an organization of mayors along the train's route. This partnership between Amtrak and state and local governments is a model for the type of partnership the railroad seeks to further the corporation's goal of becoming more market-oriented, customer-focused and profitable.

This loan is due, in full with accrued interest, on July 31, 1999. By repaying the loan early, Amtrak will realize a financial savings. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison was instrumental in securing federal funding to operate the Texas Eagle while the state sought financial support for the train in the form of the $5.6 million loan. The loan agreement was executed after the state legislature passed legislation permitting such a transaction.

"This was a real team effort," said Senator Hutchison. "The state legislature and city officials secured the loan, while I worked in Congress to make Amtrak a good investment for the people of Texas by providing Amtrak with needed reforms and putting it on a more sound business footing." "In the end, we all won," she said. "The Texas Eagle is off the endangered species list and rail service in the state is growing. That's a good return on investment." Communities along the route of the Texas Eagle showed their commitment to the train service by backing up the loan given to Amtrak by the state. Without their ongoing support, Amtrak would not have been able to continue operation of the train. The Texas Eagle Marketing and Performance Organization (TEMPO), an organization of mayors and other interested parties along the train's route, has been a leader in supporting Amtrak's marketing efforts for the service. The train is contributing an increasing share of the corporation's growing ridership and Mail and Express revenue. Ridership on the Texas Eagle grew from 95,300 in FY97 to 101,500 in FY98, a 9% increase. The Texas Eagle contributes almost half of all new express revenue to the corporation. In FY97, Amtrak's Mail and Express program contributed $70 million in revenue towards the corporation's bottom line and in FY98, $83 million. Mail and Express revenues are projected to reach more than $100 million in FY99. As a result of these improvements, and to support the pivotal role the growing Mail and Express business plays in Amtrak's Strategic Business Plan, Amtrak added a fourth-weekly frequency of operation to the Texas Eagle in February 1998.

The Texas Eagle now operates four days per week between Chicago, St. Louis, Little Rock, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio; with continuing service to El Paso, Tucson, and Los Angeles. The bi-level Superliner train offers comfortable coach and sleeping car accommodations as well as complete meals in a restaurant-style diner and snack and beverage service in the Sightseer Lounge.

Today under new leadership, Amtrak is turning the corner to become a successful business enterprise. In 1998, Amtrak passenger revenues surpassed $1 billion for the first time every powered by the largest ridership increase in a decade, totaling more than 21 million intercity rail customers, and the best on-time performance in 13 years. As part of its turnaround, Amtrak is focusing on growing public and private business partnerships, improving and guaranteeing consistency and quality of service, introducing high-speed rail in the Northeast this year and developing other high-speed rail corridors nationwide. For more information and news about Amtrak, including schedules, fares and reservations visit Amtrak's Web site at