By Keith Laing
"We believe the approach outlined in this legislation would retard rather than advance the development of high-speed rail, introduce unrealistic time schedules and assumptions, fail to provide adequately for transportation safety and security, be very expensive to the taxpayer when compared to other development models, and be fundamentally damaging to the national mission for which Amtrak was created in which the taxpayers already have invested multiple billions of dollars," he continued. "For all of these reasons, we cannot support this proposed legislation."
Unveiling the plan last week, Mica and co-sponsor Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) said private companies could provide faster service for passengers traveling to locations between Washington and Boston than Amtrak's Acela trains. The duo also said that private high-speed rail service would be cheaper than Amtrak's current proposal, which calls for spending $117 billion to increase the speed of trains to 220 miles per hour over 30 years.
"People are going to turn blue waiting for Congress to provide that money," Mica said in a news conference announcing the privatization plan. "They're also going to turn blue waiting for a high-speed train [from Amtrak]."
The proposal would remove Amtrak from control of the federally designated Northeast Rail Corridor and transfer it to the Department of Transportation. A newly created Northeast Corridor Executive Committee would oversee the bidding process for rail projects in the Northeast.
The House hearing on the proposal is scheduled for 11:30 a.m.
Separately, a Senate committee is looking Wednesday morning at the issue of rail security.