HR 6003 is a bill that will probably reach the floor of the US House of Representatives this week, and if you care about rail transportation, it's important that you pay attention.
This bill (Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008), while perfect by no means, is an important step forward in properly funding domestic rail systems in the United States. For many years 'transportation' has meant 'roads' to the government, and Amtrak has had to beg for funding every year. This bill allocates funding for the next 5 years, and helps pay down their debt, and helps resolve years of neglect due to lack of funding
This bill will help amtrak improve it's infrastructure, but it also does more than that. It gives an opening to a dialog about high speed rail along the north east corridor (Washington DC to NY to Boston), and other areas by specifically requesting proposals, and allocating money to investigate them.
While still paltry compared to the amount of funding we put into other public transportation systems (aka roads) this helps reverse a bad trend. For example Maryland (along with the federal government) is spending 600 million to build 10 miles of express lanes. 10 pitiful miles which will do nothing to help traffic because they are only ten miles. That is about equivalent to half of what Amtrak gets every year to maintain their operations across the entire united states, and this bill for the first time increases Amtrak's funding by a significant share.
Please call your representative and ask them to support house resolution 6003. Only 44 representatives have signed up to sponsor the bill so far. It needs more support than that.