June 26, 2002

CHICAGO (June 26)–The UTU Illinois Legislative Board is appealing to all members, their families and all other railroad employees to contact U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.) and ask him to become a co-sponsor of the National Defense Rail Act, or S. 1991.

The Act, which already has 27 co-sponsors in the Senate, including Illinois’ Senior Senator, Dick Durbin, would provide funding to maintain all of Amtrak’s current passenger-train operations as well as long-term capital to build additional rail capacity, including infrastructure for high-speed trains.

“Sen. Fitzgerald already has indicated he will vote in favor of S. 1991 when it comes to the floor for a vote, but that’s not enough,” said Illinois Legislative Director Joseph C. Szabo. “Passenger trains in this country need the strongest possible show of support, and that means co-sponsorship of legislation rather than just a vote.”

“We need to light up the Senator’s switchboard now,” Szabo said,”before Congress adjourns for 4th of July recess. The outreach must begin immediately and continue until close of business Thursday. There’s no time for letters. Just call.”

Those in the Chicago area can call the Fitzgerald office in the downtown Federal Building at (312) 886-3506. Downstaters should call the Springfield office (217)492-5089. Or call the Washington office at (202) 224-2854.

“Keep it short and simple,” Szabo said. “Tell the staffer who answers the phone that you are asking Senator Fitzgerald to become a co-sponsor of S. 1991. You don’t need to say any more. They’ll know what you mean. When you’re done, thank the staffer and hang up so that more callers can get connected.”

Szabo said the Washington office also is accepting faxes, which also should be kept short. Faxes should be addressed like a letter to:

The Honorable Peter Fitzgerald
United States Senator
555 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-1305

Szabo recommended the fax read as follows:

Dear Senator Fitzgerald:

Expanded and improved passenger rail service is essential to the economic development of Illinois. The National Defense Rail Act (S. 1991) will provide the funding necessary to get this vital project under way. I ask that you agree to become a co-sponsor of this legislation.

Thank you.


The completed fax should be sent to (202)228-1372.

S. 1991 will provide $1.5 billion annually over five years to begin development of high-speed passenger-rail corridors. It also provides $1.31 billion per year for repairs and maintenance on the Northeast Corridor, $580 million per year for continuation of Amtrak’s long-distance trains and$270 million per year for short-distance routes funded by Amtrak and the states.