Subsidies for Amtrak passenger rail service may be in jeopardy this year because of competing demands for limited transportation dollars, says Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.

He said Monday that President Clinton's Amtrak request for $621 million next year cannot be met without cutting back in such areas as aviation and highway safety, Coast Guard search and rescue and drug interdiction."Funding Amtrak to the exclusion of these other priorities is simply not an appropriate use of our subcommittee's budget and does not serve the average American's best interests," Shelby, who is chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on transportation, said in a statement.

Transportation Department spokesman Bill Schulz argued that it "has already demonstrated that Amtrak, a vital part of national transportation system, can be fully funded without adversely impacting other critical Department of Transportation programs."