Dem rep: Amtrak needs $117 'billion with a B'
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Rep. Chaka FattahChaka FattahPhiladelphia Dem power broker indicted The year the party machines broke Jury convicts the son of Rep. Chaka Fattah MORE (D-Pa.) estimated Saturday that Amtrak would require $117 billion for improvements to its Northeast Corridor following a fatal crash on that line earlier this week.
 
“If we’re going to have passenger rail, we’re going to need to make it safe and make it efficient,” he told The Billy Penn.
 
“It’s going to require investment,” he added, predicting Amtrak would need $117 “billion with a B” for reaching optimal safety and speed along its Northwest Corridor.
 
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Fattah, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, criticized Republicans for opposing additional funding measures for Amtrak.
 
“One party thinks we should invest in passenger rail and mass transit, and the other party doesn’t,” he said.
 
House Republicans approved a funding reduction for Amtrak on Wednesday. 
 
Fattah argued Saturday the move was insensitive given Amtrak Regional Train 188 had derailed outside Philadelphia only the night before.
 
“The [Republicans] could have delayed the meeting out of respect for those in the accident but they decided to go forward and vote on party line votes,” he said. 
 
“That is not unusual,” he added of Wednesday’s vote.
 
Fattah said that the accident illustrated the growing deterioration of America’s infrastructure overall.
 
“Our airports, bridges, railroads and highways are in pretty bad shape,” he said. “But we can’t fix them without money.”
 
Wednesday’s reduction was part of a $55 billion funding bill for the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.
 
The new measure gave Amtrak $1.13 billion, down from approximately $1.4 billion Congress appropriated for the organization in 2015.
 
The Federal Railroad Administration on Saturday ordered Amtrak to improve safety regulations along its Northeast Corridor line.
 
The agency instructed Amtrak to install an automated system for slowing out-of-control trains along the heavily traveled railway.
 
It also asked that Amtrak improve its signage for the proper speed limits in that corridor.
 
National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt said Thursday evening that Train 188 had sped up to 106 mph before its accident late Tuesday.
 
That pace, he added, took place in an area with a 50 mph speed limit.
 
Train 188’s crash Tuesday evening killed eight passengers and wounded at least 200 more.
 
The FBI announced Friday it was investigating the possibility that the vehicle was hit by a bullet or some other flying object.