Amtrak will have to give up some rights to operate trains in the Northeast U.S. to attract private investment in high-speed train service, said John Mica, chairman of the House transportation committee.
Amtrak will “never be able” to build a high-speed rail system, the Florida Republican said in an interview today at Bloomberg’s Washington office.
There are layers upon layers of complexity here. The Mica concept would seem to involve a taxpayer gift to unknown private developers. That is also known as a subsidy and it is not necessarily an evil thing. The first obvious sticking point is the tens of billions of dollars necessary to bring the NEC up to even a modest approach to high speed rail. This involves, for example, the Baltimore tunnels and land acquisition.
Mica is playing a shell game with regular people who think that, if Casey Jones hits the throttle a little harder and throws some more coal on the fire, the trains will run faster. Do not, please, read this as a some sort of ringing endorsement for Amtrak, but merely a humble reality check.