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New Hampshire liability shell game

It is late, and this one requires some extra thought. Can some smarter reader sort this issue out? Here is the latest roadblock from New Hampshire as reported by the always outstanding  Union-Leader.


Now that the state has established a rail authority to bring back passenger rail service in the Merrimack River valley, things are looking up, right?

Maybe not.

“I hate to say it, but I don’t think we’re much closer today than we were 15 years ago,” said Rep. Peter Leishman, chairman of a committee studying liability issues on rail service.

The problem is the service will have to operate on freight lines owned by Pan Am Railways, an outgrowth of the Boston and Maine Railroad.

Pan Am sent no one, not even a lobbyist, to a meeting last week that looked at liability issues, including a cap on liability. The committee is ready to grant Pan Am complete immunity from liability.

“The elephant in the room is Pan Am,” said Rep. Bette Lasky, a member of the liability panel.

Meanwhile, Steve Williams, of the Nashua Regional Planning Commission, distributed a New York Times piece showing how Amtrak has taken the fall for a series of multi-million damage suits that followed crashes on freight lines caused by rail owners negligence. Passenger rail service across the country grants rail owners like Pan Am immunity from civil suits in exchange for access to the rail.


Filed under: Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, Regional USA Passenger Rail

One Response

  1. Paul says:

    It sounds as though Pan Am needs to come to the table and agree to allow Amtrak to run trains on their line. If Amtrak and the State are truly ready to give up liability, I do not see a reason why Pan Am would not want to allow Amtrak to run… unless the line is too busy or woefully under-maintained.

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