Monday, April 24, 2017

When you need money for maintenance

That is when Republicans will cut your funding, pushing you to a state where they can gleefully crow about how bad you are and should be put to sleep. And when you are Amtrak, it is just one more arrow shot by Republicans in their years long quest to destroy rail transport in America.
The Northeast Corridor, the nation’s busiest rail region, faces a $28 billion backlog of repairs needed to modernize equipment that 750,000 riders rely on every day, both on Amtrak and on the commuter rail lines that share the same tracks.

Without major investments, the kinds of recent upheavals that have upended the lives of hundreds of thousands of travelers will be difficult to avoid, said Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a professor at Harvard Business School.

“If a bridge collapses, would people say, ‘Oh, sorry, that just proves we shouldn’t invest in bridges’?” she said. “No, they’d fix it.”

But Amtrak, a favorite punching bag for Republicans, could face major cuts under President Trump. His budget proposed eliminating federal funding for Amtrak’s long-distance routes and would slash a grant program that Amtrak was counting on to build a new Hudson River rail tunnel. Yet many long-distance routes traverse parts of the country that voted for Mr. Trump, including the City of New Orleans line, which runs between Chicago and New Orleans.

At the same time, Amtrak has been under increased scrutiny after two fatal train crashes in the last two years. A derailment in Philadelphia in 2015 killed eight people. Federal officials blamed the engineer, who lost track of his location on the route, for the crash and said safety technology not yet installed on the tracks could have prevented the accident. A crash last year killed two workers when a train hit construction equipment on tracks near Philadelphia.

Then there is the fragile infrastructure at Penn Station, North America’s busiest train station. The recent derailments closed several tracks, leading to cancellations and delays across the three railroads that share the station: Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Rail Road.

On April 14, a New Jersey Transit train became stuck in the Hudson River tunnel for hours, setting off another round of delays and harsh words between Amtrak and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who had already threatened to halt his state’s payments to the railroad as a result of the earlier derailments.
There is much work that needs to be done. Sadly Republicans only see a public asset they can not drain so they seek to destroy it.


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