Amtrak Boss Challenges the Freights.
On Thursday, in a House subcommittee hearing on the subject of Positive Train Control, Amtrak’s President/CEO Richard Anderson delivered some startling testimony . . . testimony containing a pretty clear message to both the Congress and to the freight railroads.
In an obvious reference to the recent derailments, Anderson minced no words. He said Amtrak has been ”running a freight railroad that carries passengers” and he vowed to bring the same kind of safety culture to Amtrak that’s found in commercial aviation.
Then Anderson dropped a bombshell: Amtrak, he said, has completed installation of the Positive Train Control system on all track owned by Amtrak. But, he said, at the end of this calendar year, he would stop running Amtrak trains over any stretch of track owned by a freight railroad that had not implemented the PTC system.
Wow! That’s terrific! Amtrak socking it to the freights, demanding that they quit dragging their feet and finally meet the Congressional mandate to get the safety system in place.
But wait a second! It’s no secret that after 50 years, the freight railroads have come to hate the original agreement — specifically, that they would not only allow Amtrak trains on their track, but they would give Amtrak priority. It would now appear that if the freight railroads just do nothing … just don’t finish implementing PTC … Richard Anderson could actually do what John Mica and a gaggle of GOP members of Congress haven’t been able to do: shut down some portion of Amtrak’s long distance network. Maybe even most of it.
Never a dull moment, eh?