Populist movements don't build themselves ...

... It doesn't matter what the "horse race" outcome of the campaign is, if we fight the campaign. Fighting it, we learn how to fight. Learning how to fight political battles, we become citizens again. Becoming citizens again, we reclaim the Republic that lies dormant beneath the bread and circuses of modern American society.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday Train: Chairman Mica aims to block equipment Amtrak needs to expand

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

The headline spin on House Chairman of the Transport Committee is that he is proposing to privatize the NEC to allow HSR to be built in this decade.

However, if you follow the money trail, while he proposes a process to do that, there is no funding proposed to do that. And without a funding stream for the federal share of anywhere from $40b to $100b to bring the NEC up to a state of good repair and then to make the improvements required, under current FRA regulations, to meet Mica's modest speed targets ... that part of it is not a real proposal yet.

The real proposal is to have talking points to use to object to any funding that gets out of the Senate to allow Amtrak to buy more equipment so it can expand the capacity and frequency to meet the steady increase in demand for its services.

ProgressiveBlue ;
HillbillyReport.org ;
Docudharma ;
Stars Hollow Gazette ; and,
Agent Orange .

1 comment:

D. P. Lubic said...

One of the things no one speaks of is that a number of Amtrak trains are long distance jobs that also run on the NEC. Examples include the Lynchburg train and the service out to Newport News and Williamsburg, the Crescent Limited, the Florida trains, and the service to western Pennsylvania. Other trains may not run through, but make connections (i.e., the Capitol Limited). What happens to the finances of the NEC if these trains go away? Depending on how expenses and revenues are accounted for, it could be that there is some revenue going into the NEC; certainly the loss of through passengers and their share of the revenue will not help it.

Then there is this bit:

“Under Mica’s proposal, all of the state corridors will be required to put service out to tender, with the winning bid having to involve less federal subsidy than under Amtrak. The long haul routes that are intrinsically subsidized public utility services when operated at conventional rail speeds will be subject to privatization if a private operator submits an expression of interest ~ and again, the winning bid will have to be at less than the Amtrak level of subsidy.”–Bruce McF

This can be almost be interpreted as a way to make state support for and/or partnerships with Amtrak illegal, and it also breaks their connecting services. At the very least it amounts to kicking the states that have supported rail. I have to say this makes me very cynical of Mica.