Senate Rejects White House Proposal to Restructure Amtrak

A White House plan to restructure Amtrak was, uh, derailed yesterday by nearly unanimous bipartisan opposition in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. The six-year Amtrak reauthorization bill proposed ending federal operating subsidies for the passenger rail service, opening some routes to private operators, and turning the Washington-to-Boston service area over to the states. Committee members called it an ill-disguised effort to dismantle the beleaguered rail system and leave states holding the financial bag. Even one of the only champions of the plan, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), acknowledged that “there are obvious omissions in it, notably how much restructuring will cost, and some aspects of the plan may not be entirely workable.” Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) was far blunter: “I fear this approach will be the end of Amtrak as a national system.”