Happening Now

Rail Passengers Association Says Shutting Down Amtrak Routes Will Not Make America Safer

February 15, 2018

-- Applauds Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson For Strong Safety Stance on PTC --

For Immediate Release (17-27)

Contact: Xenophon Strategies - (202) 289-4001

Washington, D.C. - In testimony before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee with jurisdiction over rail, Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson said unequivocally that Amtrak will suspend services on routes that run in areas that don't apply for extensions on Positive Train Control through 2020. He also declared that he is going to bring the aviation safety culture to railroading, and faulted Amtrak for "running a freight railroad that carries passengers" over its history.

Rail Passengers Association President and CEO Jim Mathews, who observed the testimony, called for immediate action on PTC, noting that it will make rail safer. He responded to the testimony by stating:

“We're in a place in this country where Amtrak may not feel comfortable operating on the nation's rail network. That should never have been allowed to happen. Shutting down parts of the passenger rail system over PTC implementation will in no way represent a safer transportation system for Americans. It will strip citizens of a transportation choice growing ridership warrants, and force them onto far more dangerous roads. Millions more who cannot drive will be left with no options at all.

Let's not lose sight of the important fact that rail -- even as it's configured today -- is at least 10 times safer than driving on the highway. Amtrak's National Network, state-supported corridors and Northeast Corridor services are still safe for passengers and will be made safer-still by full implementation of PTC.

What I saw this morning in the House hearing room was a remarkable, and refreshing, display of bipartisanship, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle demanding that everyone involved in rolling out PTC simply get on with it and ask for money and help if they need it. For the first time in a long time, there appears to be enough pressure from both Congress and the public so that the freight and commuter railroads will mostly meet the December 31st deadline for implementation.

Speaking as not only the Rail Passengers Association President, but as an aviator, an air search-and-rescue volunteer and a former first-responder, I have to applaud Mr. Anderson's observation that it's time for railroading to learn from aviation when it comes to passenger safety. We at Rail Passengers Association stand ready to help in any way that we can.”

The Rail Passengers Association has long argued in favor of implementing Positive Train Control. In the wake of recent fatal accidents, including one in Dupont, Wash., in December 2017, which took the lives of two of the organization’s members, the Association has re-doubled its call for rail safety now.

About the Rail Passengers Association
The Rail Passengers Association is the oldest and largest national organization speaking for the nearly 40 million users of passenger trains and rail transit. We have worked since 1967 to expand the quality and quantity of passenger rail in the U.S. Our mission is to work towards a modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want. Our work is supported by more than 28,000 individual members nationwide.