(Adds details on hearing, background on Amtrak in paragraphs 4-10)
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON, May 31 (Reuters) - U.S. passenger railroad Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner will testify on June 6 before a U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure railroads subcommittee, a spokesperson for the panel said on Wednesday, as traffic rebounds after a pandemic-driven dip.
Gardner and Northeast Corridor Commission Executive Director Mitch Warren will testify at a hearing on Amtrak operations examining the challenges and opportunities for improving efficiency and service.
Amtrak did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Traffic on the busy Northeast Corridor connecting Boston and Washington more than doubled in the 12-month period ending Sept. 30 to 9.2 million passengers.
Amtrak wants to expand dramatically across the United States and add up to 39 corridor routes and up to 166 cities by 2035 and plans to hire 3,100 workers this year. It is also modernizing major rail stations and rebuilding key infrastructure.
Congress in November 2021 approved $22 billion for Amtrak as part of a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.
The Biden administration in March sought $3.1 billion in annual funding for Amtrak for the 2024 budget year on top of $4.4 billion in funding the railroad will receive from the infrastructure law. It is also seeking $700 million for a key New York Hudson River tunnel project.
Aging infrastructure is preventing Amtrak from running trains at higher speeds along the Boston to Washington northeast corridor.
In November, Amtrak said ridership jumped by more than 10 million riders in the year ending Sept. 30 and has nearly returned to pre-COVID-19 levels. Amtrak said ridership rose 89% over 2021 levels to 22.9 million riders, up 10.8 million passengers over the prior year.
Overall ridership hit about 85% of pre-COVID levels in the last six months of the 2022 budget year, Amtrak said, adding it expects passengers and revenue to rise above 90% of pre-COVID levels by September 2023. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chris Reese and Jamie Freed)