Amtrak Fell Off the Rails Long Ago

May 14th, 2015

Amtrak’s deadly train accident this week is the second I’ve blogged about. The first one happened north of New York City and now we have this horrific accident in Philadelphia. As in Tuesday’s accident, people were hurt and killed.

Without question, it’s past time to get Amtrak back on track.

Since this week’s accident, Democrats are trying to turn the tragedy into a political food fight blaming Republicans within ten minutes of the accident for a lack of funding as the cause. This is both insensitive to the victims and simply wrong on the facts. Republicans just took control of both the House and the Senate. Obama has been in power for six years, many of those with Democrats in control of one if not both houses of Congress.

The fact is that trains have been forgotten for a very long time. This became clear to me when Paul and I ventured out on our cross-country train trip. Everything on Amtrak was old. At one point, we bought two cabins because Paul is a big guy and we thought that would be more comfortable. Not long into our journey, we discovered that the door between the two cabins was so old and rusty that it wouldn’t open. It took us a while after making that discovery to get help.

According to the Amtrak employees we spoke with along the way, they love their jobs. They get frustrated, however, by how old and oftentimes unworkable the equipment can be. That’s not much comfort to passengers who have no control over what happens along the way.

I think we need a huge overhaul of the train system in this country. Planes and interstate highways get all the love here (although some would argue even they don’t get enough).

It’s time to take a long hard look at the choo choo situation. We either need a new comprehensive plan to re-invest in rails or shut them down altogether in the interest of public safety. That would be a shame in light of the fact that much of the rest of the world has fabulous railway systems.

The present situation simply isn’t acceptable. This last crash was a tragedy just like the one before. We still don’t know what happened exactly, but there is no doubt train travel needs reformation. Whether it’s the equipment, the system, or just the training and selection of workers that’s the issue, the system is in dire need of an overhaul.

It’s time to bring back this historic mode of transportation to modern day standards. All elected officials responsible for transportation need to get involved. It doesn’t matter if they’re Republicans or Democrats. Trying to blame the current problems on the Republicans is utterly lame.

Train transportation has all but gone with the wind. As a history major and a fan of train travel, I hope it doesn’t go away. Trains are worth saving. In the northwest, they’re a vital part of life. So many people use them to commute to work there that it’s extremely important to keep them operating and in good repair.

We need trains. Imagine how crowded roads would be if not for trains. Traffic would come to a standstill (more than it does today).

The Obama administration has wasted so much money on those so-called shovel ready projects and other boondoggles that has only brought us the highest debt in history. Looks like trains have simply fallen through the tracks.

Here’s an idea. Joe Biden has zero legacies at this point. He’s only known for gaffes and buffoonery. Getting the trains running on time safely again and updating train travel would be a great project for him. He often talks about his train travel between DC and Delaware so it makes sense.

Hopefully, after so many dark years, train travel will see it’s renaissance and America’s train conductors in the future can say “all aboard” happily and with great confidence.



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