AFL-CIO: Soviet comparison for Amtrak outdated

"More to the point, the Amtrak they disparage simply does not exist today and, unlike some of its predecessors, current management has a vision for the future," Wytkind continued. 

Wytkind told lawmakers that “wishful thinking won’t build and sustain a 21st century transportation system."

"A vision, backed by policies and real dollars, will," he said. "There’s no high-speed system in the world that operates without robust government support.  So let’s stop all the tired privatization rhetoric and have a conversation about how to get this done in the real world."

Mica did not back down from his calls to privatize rail service in the northeast however.

"We have tried things Amtrak’s way for 40 years without success," his office said in a statement. "We must bring the private sector and competition to the table. Instead of throwing more and more taxpayer dollars at the program, our plan does more with less – by leveraging private sector investment, increasing competition, and opening the door to public private partnerships we can finally bring true high speed rail to the NEC, and in half the time and at significantly less cost."

At the same hearing Thursday, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) also strongly defended Amtrak, saying it "makes our region work."

"If we shut down the Northeast Corridor rail service, you’d have to build seven new lanes on Interstate 95 just to carry all the travelers that use these trains every day," Lautenberg said.