Bill Proposes Privatization of Northeast Rail Corridor

House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica has proposed a bill to privatize Northeast Corridor rail operations. This post from Pedestrian Observations looks at what such a plan would mean.

Amtrak, the operator of the Northeast Corridor and the Acela train, is not particularly happy about the idea.

"This will be done more like European rather than Japanese privatization: Amtrak will not be privatized directly, but instead the Amtrak-owned trackage and rolling stock in the Northeast will be transferred to a separate government-owned company, which will award a design-build-operate-maintain contract based on competitive bidding and lease the infrastructure to the winning bidder for 99 years.

Amtrak President Joseph Boardman replied, 'This is broader than the northeast at this point. This is the Privatize Passenger Rail for America Act. The overall impact is this takes Amtrak apart, from an infrastructure standpoint, and replaces it with a government entity.'"

Full Story: Mica Introduces NEC Privatization Bill



Slippery slope is a logical fallacy, but still is a worry

What happens once the line is privatized? It seems that it will give more weight to the idea that public transportation should be profitable. This will further strengthen the hand of republicans who want to cut all funding to public transit. Also by privatizing Amtrak's most profitable area, Amtrak will be operating at an even greater deficit, thus promoting further calls to cut its funding.

That said, it doesn't mean this is a bad idea. If it works and increases quality and quantity of service while being profitable, that is a good thing. Still there are some slippery slope issues that need to be addressed.

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