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In Wake of Horrific Crash, House GOP Panel Slashes Amtrak Budget


In Wake of Horrific Crash, House GOP Panel Slashes Amtrak Budget

Jon Queally, staff writer

In the same day the nation's eyes were focused on a deadly Amtrak derailment in Pennsylvania, the Republican majority in the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday slashed nearly $260 million from a bill funding the federally-supported railway service.

As the Huffington Post reports:


I’d like to see more funding for Amtrak, and the US Post Office and of all our public institutions and services. But if the guy was driving 100 miles an hour in a 50 mile zone, I fail to see how more funding would have prevented that.


All the republicans are saying is that privatizing Amtrak would mean they could wreck the same train and kill twice as many people at half the cost.


Since we do not know the facts of what caused the crash, it is premature to lay the blame exclusively on the driver. While that seems a likely cause, there are numerous ways that a breakdown in some part of the safety and warning system could lead to a crash. The engineer of the train is dependent on warning lights, signs, back-up safety systems. What if there was no kind of warning, due to a breakdown, that the speed limit was only fifty miles an hour? It could be that that particular section of track, if it had been properly maintained, would be safe even at 100 mph. At this point we do not know the facts. I doubt that we will ever really know the facts, and, despite whatever breakdowns due to lack of proper maintenance (i.e., lack of funding), the driver will end up taking the full blame from authorities.

Even assuming that the driver is 100% at fault, is it really a good idea to cut funding that goes to maintain and update safety systems for rail travel? The juxtaposition of the crash, whatever the cause, and Republican cluelessness is stark whatever caused the crash. It points out their utter disregard for the safety and well-being of the rest of us who cannot afford to travel by first-class air, helicopter, or chauffeured limousine.


‘It is unbelievable that Congress would vote to cut Amtrak funding just hours after this tragedy.’
No, it is NOT unbelievable!!! The people who are “running” this country, by and large, are heartless bastards. And many have wanted to see Amtrak die a long time ago. Well, I hope they’re happy with themselves tonight.


These bastards are letting our country rot from the inside out. Whether its a bridge in Minnesota or a rail line in Philly, they are enabling the slow steady death of our nations infrastructure


Well for starters, the funding model for Amtrak forces Amtrak to spend the revenues from the Northeast Corridor (where it makes money) to subsidize its national service (where it loses money). Along much of the rest of the NE corridor, Amtrak has installed Positive Speed Control which would have prevented this accident. However, with the profits diverted elsewhere, Amtrak did not have the funds to do this. Amtrak owns these tracks (unlike the tracks it uses throughout the rest of the nation), so it has been prevented from installing such safety systems and track upgrades by a lack of funding. Signalling and safety systems have been vastly improved over the years, but as long as you are forced to rely on 19th century technology, you are going to have accidents. Can you imagine using the Wright Brother’s controls on a modern jetliner? Why should we be forced to accept obsolete controls for our trains? Oh yeah, because we need that money to purchase bombs and weapon systems.

Incidentally, because the NE corridor is profitable, there have been many, many attempts by lobbyists to “privatize” the NE corridor so some rich investor can get richer and let the rest of the train service deteriorate even further. Notice that there is rarely talk about privatizing airports because the 1% like to have the taxpayer pick up the bill for their own travel.


I was in the former Soviet Union after it fell and saw an infrastructure and its money after it collapsed. It is a very ugly site. Women prostituting themselves to feed their families, men cutting the steel out of steel toed boots for scrap value. We had to weld everything down so it would not be stolen, not because these people were bad, because they were trying to feed themselves.


I’m sick of the book cooking that goes on regarding Amtrak and passenger rail in this country. NO passenger rail system in the World makes an overall profit. While Amtrak plays games with it’s accounting to show an “above the rail” profit for it’s premium Acela service, the truth is that while Amtrak earns more of it’s revenue (something like 85+%) from the fare box - more than just about any other country’s rail passenger service, if you account for all of Amtrak’s infrastructure costs, the entire system still loses money - and always will - as long as we subsidize various modes of transportation unequally. Motor fuel and vehicle taxes pay for less than half of our road expenses, and airline taxes and fees also pay for less than 2/3rds of the cost of flying in the U. S. It’s just that those modes have better lobbyists and backers in Congress, and Amtrak sticks out like a sore thumb as a line item in the federal budget. Something for Libertards to take direct aim at as an “unnecessary luxury”, instead of a necessary part of a well-balanced transportation “system”.


I love trains and I’ve ridden Amtrak numerous times. It’s been a bipartisan alliance of crooked congress critters that have strangled train travel in this country. Yet, GM, Ford, Toyota, Honda; ah, what the hell; all carmakers are allowed to build and sell unsafe cars which kill hundreds, maybe thousands, of people every year. And, the Feds bail them out, for real!! You can’t make this crap up because nobody would buy the film rights. ( Instead we get psychos like Kyle and Eastwood ) Let’s face it, the people in charge of this country are mafia capitalists to the core. During the 1st Iraq II war, Amtrak had to pull over to a side rail for hours, to let military equipment move to the ports for shipment overseas. Where, of course, it was left to rust or somehow " lost " to ISIS or Al Qaeda, for bookkeeping purposes… ( Show me the money !! ) This country couldn’t get a license to be run as a brothel in Tijuana, it’s so corrupt. " At the end of the day, Uncle Sam, have you no shame, sir? Funny you ask, but the answer is still, " Hell no! "


The Republicans have been slowly strangling the government and it’s services for the last three decades, all except the military, of course. If Amtrak had been properly funded all along safety measures would have been in place and this accident would not have happened. So in my view they bear at least some responsibility for the deaths and injuries in this crash. Not that they care. They starve the government and then scream and yell about how inefficient and a waste of money it is. Bastards. Nothing lasts forever, not even the Republicans. I just hope to live long enough to see regime change in America when government of, by and for the people becomes a reliability. But maybe I’m too old. Maybe the best I can hope for is to die before all hell breaks loose in the coming climate catastrophe. Still hoping for the best, though. Cheers.




Why do you have to infuse a toxic, gratuitous insult in your otherwise interesting comment? It immediately reduces the level of the conversation to adversarial /defensive. We all have to learn the basics of civil discourse or we will lose what little cohesion we have as a people.


Were there no blue and white police trains with sirens to catch and book the train drivers?

Going “100+ MPH in a 50 MPH zone” isn’t something that normally can happen in first world countries. Perhaps it might have happened in Afghanistan or Zambia, if they ever had trains, otherwise trains, and traffic are two different things. We might expect some car drivers to do such things, but a train, NO.

This loudly screams that not only was there is no devices to regulate the speed, but that there were no devices even to monitor and record the speed, so that it is just left to the train driver to go at any speed takes their fancy.


And pay the train engineers at even lower wages.
You get what you pay for.


No doubt republican logic goes like this: “Black people ride trains, rich white people fly planes. Therefore, cut funding on Amtrack and keep up funding for airports.” Republicans’ behavior certainly supports my assertions. I think all the other posts here are spot on, so far, and agree with most of what everyone’s saying.


Poor people of all colors ride Amtrak. Foreign tourists, carless people and lots of old folks with disabilities; and, young mothers with multiple restless children ride the train, too. But the major problem here is playing out right now on the TeeVee. At Mayor Michael Nutter’s press conference about this incident it took him at least 5 minutes to introduce and thank all the administrators, agencies and politicians, by name of course, who are in attendance. It’s a circus of bureauocrats and wannabees who appear to be preening and fluffing themselves to keep their jobs or run for another term or higher office. Public relations and PSAs are much in abundance today in our country. What we lack in a major, fundamental way is some sense of decency and social responsibility for the citizens who are killed every day in this country for lack of adequate funding and maintenance of our public highways, railways and bridges; really, the whole 9 yards. Ribbon cutters and glad handers yes, accountability for the dead and mangled, not so much. We need a new beginning in this country, a new social contract, as it were. It’s enough to make you ill, it’s the constant " blah, blah, blah " from our leaders which, however, accounts for the murder, the kill. We should be asking for mass letters of resignation from the folks on The Hill.


**Educate. If there were a modern infrastructure (magnetic propulsion) in this country that is not being constantly abused by heavy trucks (hauling fossil fuel products and polluting the air) this would have never happened. **