Pa. senator: Amtrak needs more funding

Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.) called on his fellow lawmakers on Sunday to increase the tax dollars available to Amtrak following a fatal crash in Philadelphia.

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“We should not, the Congress should not put Amtrak in the position of choosing between positive train control and fixing crumbling bridges,” Casey told host Bob Schieffer on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“We have to do both,” he said.

“And we’ve got to make sure they have the resources to do that,” he said. “We don’t know the connection between funding and this incident, but regardless, Amtrak needs more funding.”

Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 overturned in Philadelphia late Tuesday evening, killing eight passengers and wounding at least 200 more.

Casey said that he backed the implementation of positive train control technology along that railway, Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

“It’s a technology that allows the train engineer, if he or she is not slowing the train down appropriately, it can override that human error if the train’s moving too fast,” he said.

“So if you’re a member of Congress, as I am, and the law says, as it does, that by the end of the year, positive train control has to be implemented and deployed, we have to make sure we do everything possible to support Amtrak in completing that assignment,” Casey said.

Casey additionally said he was eager to hear the results of an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) into the derailment’s cause.

He hinted that Congress might launch its own research for answers depending on the report’s findings in the near future.

“I would guess that the Congress, in its oversight role, would have some sort of investigation beyond the routine appropriations debates,” Casey said.

“But that’s really up to the relevant committees in the House and Senate,” he said.

Congress has divided along party lines on the issue of future funding for Amtrak following Tuesday’s accident.

Many Democrats have argued that the incident was preventable if better safety resources had existed along the Northwest Corridor the train was traveling upon.

Some Republicans have countered that speed, not funding, might have been the primary factor in the deadly event.

Train 188 was reportedly going almost double the speed limit before the moment of impact.

Train 188’s engineer, Brandon Bostian, has since tried cooperating with the NTSB’s investigation despite his claims that he cannot remember most details of the actual crash.