House Republicans are once again pushing a proposal to dismantle Amtrak, by carving up the national network and awarding private investors the right to build and operate high-speed rail service between Washington and Boston. While the highly profitable Northeast Corridor would be privatized under the GOP plan, less profitable routes would remain part of the Amtrak system and ultimately be starved of federal subsidies.
“Jobs would be threatened by privatizing the northeast corridor,” said TCU President Bob Scardelletti “Amtrak already has a dedicated and experienced workforce of ticket agents, baggage handlers, Carmen, on-board service workers, supervisors, machinists, sheet-metal workers, firemen and oilers, engineers and conductors. These workers are vital to operating current and future high-speed rail service.”
Scardelletti continued, “Northeast Corridor jobs must remain under the rail laws of the United States. They must remain as good paying jobs with full benefits. Congress must reject the privatization of the Northeast Corridor.”
However some in the House want to break Amtrak apart, “We plan to introduce legislation to separate the Northeast Corridor from Amtrak, transfer it to a separate entity, and begin a competitive bidding process that would allow for a public-private partnership to design, build, operate, maintain and finance high-speed service,” Congressman John Mica (R-FL) said in a news release.
Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL) was among those who rejected the GOP proposal and argued that public transportation systems, whether highways, air travel or railways, all required federal financial support. “There is no form of transportation that supports itself,” said Brown at a recent hearing of the House Transportation Committee. “I don’t support cherry-picking the best routes in our system and turning them over to the private sector.”