-by James Parks
June 22, 2011- Ever since the Reagan administration, conservative Republicans have been trying to rip apart the nation’s passenger rail system, Amtrak, and sell its assets to Wall Street. The latest effort, led by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) and Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), would privatize Amtrak’s most profitable Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C., and sell the rest of the system to the highest bidder.
With Amtrak doing better today than at any time in its history, breaking up the system would bankrupt the railway, cost thousands of jobs and defeat the purpose of a national passenger rail system.
Take action now. Tell your elected representative that the purpose of running a national passenger rail system isn’t to help Wall Street and private investors make money. Tell them that privatizing Amtrak will bankrupt it and destroy thousands of good jobs.
Says Edward Wytkind, president of the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department (TTD):
The purpose of running a national passenger rail system isn’t to enrich Wall Street and wealthy investors by handing them one of the nation’s most prized and complex surface transportation corridors.
Transportation workers support boosting the role of the private sector in our rail transportation system, “but we are opposed to privatizing and breaking up Amtrak,” Wytkind says.
Privatization of rail systems has been discredited when attempted in other parts of the world, most notably in Great Britain where fares went up, service and safety deteriorated and passengers and employees died, Wytkind adds.