Garamendi Statement on Tragic Amtrak Crash
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) released a statement on the Amtrak 188 crash. Garamendi serves as Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, and Amtrak’s Northern California Capitol Corridor route runs through his Congressional District.
“My heart goes out to every person impacted by the horrific train derailment in Philadelphia. Lives have been lost and lives have been forever altered. I am deeply appreciative to the first responders, Amtrak passengers, and health personnel who prevented additional tragedy and are helping people heal,” Congressman Garamendi said. “We do not have a full picture of what caused this accident. The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting a thorough investigation. We do know that Positive Train Control technology could have prevented the train from going twice the speed limit on a sharp turn. We must learn from this tragedy, apply these lessons, and strengthen our nation’s transportation safety. A great nation deserves public transit networks that are as safe and reliable as possible.”
The President’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget calls for $2.4 billion in funding for Amtrak. Amtrak is currently funded through Fiscal Year 2015 at $1.39 billion. On Wednesday, the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee voted to cut funding for Amtrak by $251 million and set 2016 funding at $1.1385 billion. A Democratic amendment to set funding at the level of the President’s Budget was rejected. Garamendi urges his Republican colleagues to reconsider this decision and to fully invest in Amtrak.
According to Amtrak documents, the Capitol Corridor route, which includes stops in the Congressman’s District cities of Suisun City/Fairfield and Davis, is on schedule to finish implementing Positive Train Control technology by the end of the year, a deadline that all train lines are obligated under law to meet.
Taking the train remains one of the safest modes of transportation with a low report of passenger deaths. Since 1975, 158 Amtrak passengers have been killed, and many of those deaths were the result of passengers jumping or falling off of trains. Most Amtrak-related deaths are the result of trespassers on the tracks.