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Byline: Jon Hilkevitch
CHICAGO _ Warning that the "moment of truth for Amtrak" is near, the president of the beleaguered passenger railroad on Tuesday sent a $1.8 billion request to Congress for fiscal 2005 as part of a five-year recovery program.
The funding plea, aimed at returning Amtrak rails, bridges and trains to a state of good repair, exceeds by about $300 million the current year's federal subsidy. The proposal faces tough going, particularly in an election year.
While Amtrak carried a record 24 million passengers in fiscal 2003, it still operates money-losing routes, most of them in the nation's heartland.
Supporters of enhancing …