To me, yesterday's Amtrak train crash represents the latest proof of the need for more adequate funding for Amtrak,rail commuter and railroading in general. I applaude the emergency workers' response to the train crash. What I do not applaud, however, is the continued Congressional hostility toward rail passenger service in this country, especially when the events of 9-11 have demonstrated not only a demand, but a need for more rail passenger service in this country. Breaking up Amtrak would be a big mistake. What Amtrak needs is a management team made up of professional railroaders who know the railroad business, and not the political hacks that make up so much of the railroad's board of directors. The crash in Florida, yesterday, removed from service, 40 valuable pieces of equipment that Amtrak could ill-afford to lose for any length of time and yet Congress with its screwed up priorities would rather pour money into energy consuming transport modes such as highways an subsidies to airlines, some of whom do deserve to go out of business for doing the same abuses to passengers that the railroads were accused of doing to passengers using their trains when they wanted out of the business. Perhaps it is time to force the railroads back into the passenger business whether they want to or not. They evaded their public responsibilities once by getting out of the business.
As to the fire and rescue aspects of this accident, more fire departments, especially volunteer fire departments in rural areas might do well to avail themselves of any available training for rescue techniques and other tactics relating to handling emergencies involving passenger trains. The fire departments in those communities owe it to themselves to become familiar with the various types of rolling stock used by Amtrak in serving its passengers and the excursion coaches in use on special trains run from time to time.
Back to the theme of this letter: It is high time that Congress started to do the will of the people, ALL of the people, instead of allowing themselves to be manipulated by big corporate interests most of whom have little or no moral scruples, except those that they find in the nearby gutter. We need more trains for passengers, NOT fewer and for the events where passenger train accidents arise, more emergency personnel familiar with the equipment Amtrak and commuter authorities operate on their trains and how to safely make forcebable entry into these rail cars. What will it be, a stronger viable transportation network where rail plays the vital role it deserves, or an increasingly unsafe highway and airways network?