Amtrak’s woes mount; infrastructure upgrades and repairs, not so much

A CNBC article this week provocatively titled "Aging Amtrak tunnel is a reminder of crumbling America" chronicles the recent troubles that have plagued passenger train travel in the northeast U.S. and highlights the absence of crucial fixes. For instance:

For the fifth time in a week of breakdowns and electrical failures, thousands of passengers were left stranded on both sides of the 105-year-old Hudson River tunnel that provides a vital transit gateway between New Jersey and New York for millions of passengers and hundreds of freight trains every year.

On Tuesday, an Amtrak train headed to New York's Penn Station stalled inside one of two tunnels, stranding passengers for over an hour and backing up commuter trains that share the two-track passage.

"It isn't just these cables that need to be repaired. It's the track, it's the ballast, it's the signals, it's the catenary, it's all the things that need to be done," Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman said Friday, according to the Associated Press. "So we have to juggle on a constant basis what we take down in order to get the work done."

It's not just a matter of passenger inconvenience, of course, although that is a serious problem in its own right. May's fatal derailment in Philadelphia reminds us that passenger safety is at stake, too. 

Here's the CNBC story. (If you're curious what Boardman means by "the catenary," and whether that's important for anything but chasing away the mousenary, Amtrak's blog has you covered, here.)

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