Not long ago, Amtrak train #188 heading north to NYC, derailed just outside of Philadelphia, Pa., killing six passengers and injuring many more, some in critical condition. The cause of the accident was attributed to the train's “high speed” (106 mph) as it rounded a curved portion of the track. Old trains and old tracks apparently can’t handle that speed. As noted in the TV news coverage, the wreck was intensive, debris and wrecked rail cars scattered for hundreds of yards.
Sadly, this is America’s answer to the “Bullet Train,” rapid passenger transit on our eastern seaboard. Japan and other countries have “Bullet Trains” traveling safely in excess of 300 mph without breathing hard. After all this time, I ask, “Where is America’s modern Bullet Train?”
In 2013, over 31 million passengers rode Amtrak’s northeast corridor trains; Amtrak / Acela. That’s certainly enough paying patrons to realize safer, faster and more efficient rail service in America. But no, Amtrak, like other Federal institutions, runs deficits each year, forced to depend upon additional funding from the government to continue service and to stay in business. So I ask again, it is now 2015, “Where is America’s modern Bullet Train?”
While all those passengers were riding Amtrak, our Congress authorized the spending of taxpayer money totaling $4.8 Billion in earmarks last year for such “needed” projects as: “Increasing the Pacific Salmon Population,” “Aquatic Plant Control,” and new tanks, which the U.S. Army neither needs nor wants.”
But nowhere in those allocations were funds earmarked to improve the rail service on our east coast corridor with a modern “Bullet Train” service (or for any massive repairs needed for roads and bridges for that matter).
It seems doubtful the earmarks will ever end. But maybe Americans might take notice regarding this train wreck and contact their elected Representatives and Senators to complain about the way our government spends our money, especially on earmarks. We tend to forget that the only money our government generates are taxes, which come out of the pockets of U.S. taxpayers, yours and mine. Certainly we should have some say in how it is spent.
The writer lives in North Myrtle Beach.