Wednesday, November 16, 2005

House Committee Discusses Amtrak Board: November 15, 2005

*** scroll for updates . . . 5:05pmCST November 16, 2005 ***

Much writing is now up on the web concerning yesterday's hearing held by the U. S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure concerning "Current Governance Issues at Amtrak". Read that to say, why did y'all fire David Gunn?

Chair of the Railroad Subcommittee Steven LaTourette (R-OH) has this to say in a Statement. The basic slant is that the "key issue" is the legality of Amtrak's Board, but there are other between-the-lines observations, too.

For the summation of the Subcommittee's Hearing, go here. There is testimony from Jeffery Rosen, DOT's General Counsel, from Amtrak Board Chair David Laney, from Amtrak's new Acting President David Hughes, and, surprise, even testimony from David Gunn!

Everyone's statement says pretty much what you would expect. Rosen provides a wonderful overview of the creation and reformation of Amtrak's Board itself. Laney denies that the Administration is trying to dismantle Amtrak. Hughes verifies that Amtrak will work to insure the success of whatever form whoever wants Amtrak to take. And Gunn recounts his achievements with a great deal of pride.

Two things struck me. One, even though Gunn has had experience operating and improving various public transit agencies, he was able to do so within the framework of his experience on private Class One Railroad properties. Amtrak is a public transportation agency of quite a different color.

Two, it is hard to accept at face value what Laney has to say, considering some of his comments that came to light during questioning by Subcommittee members. Railroad News by Railserve has the links, you will see the two under"latest headlines" that are the most interesting. Seems Mr. Laney actually spoke with people about taking over the Northeast Corridor. Of course, he cannot recall who they were!

I still remain hopeful that more good than bad comes out of all this. What say you?

UPDATE: Progressive Railroading has an article.


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