Per the Associated Press:
"Spurred by the recent train crash that killed 25 people in Los Angeles, the House passed sweeping rail safety legislation Wednesday requiring more rest for workers and technology that can stop a train in its tracks if it's headed for collision.
At least one of the measures could have made a difference in the Sept. 12 head-on collision between a freight train and a commuter train — the nation's deadliest rail crash since 1993.
Lawmakers scurried to reach agreement on the safety bill in the wake of the disaster, which happened when a Southern California Metrolink commuter train failed to stop at a red light and ended up on the same track as an oncoming freight.
"I'm heartened that we're considering this bill now and I hope it's offering some small degree of comfort to the families that are suffering after the recent Metrolink disaster in California," said Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., before the House passed the legislation by voice vote.
It now goes to the Senate, where prospects for passage are uncertain in the dwindling legislative hours before Congress adjourns for the election at the end of this week.
Investigators are looking at engineer fatigue as a possible factor in the Metrolink crash, and the Federal Railroad Administration says that so-called positive train control technology would have prevented the crash.
The technology can engage the brakes if a train misses a signal or gets off-track. The bill requires it to be installed by 2015 on all rail lines that carry passengers and on freight lines that carry hazardous materials.
That date may be too soon for the railroad industry, which says it supports positive train control but opposed a congressionally mandated timeline, but not soon enough for some lawmakers eager to move quickly on safety in the wake of the L.A. crash.
The package wraps in legislation reauthorizing Amtrak for five years and providing $13 billion for the carrier. Some of that money would go to matching grants to help states set up or expand rail service.
The Amtrak portion of the legislation also establishes a program for private companies to bid to develop high-speed rail corridors on the East Coast, a private sector component pushed by Republicans who have been wary of what they've seen as ever-growing subsidies to Amtrak.
Amtrak's previous authorization expired in 2002. The carrier's supporters say a new authorization will allow Amtrak to make long-range plans and take advantage of what they say is a growing appetite for passenger rail."
Do you smell something rotten here, as usual?
Once again, the politicians are playing with our lives by stuffing pork into the equation, and the railroads are balking at following safety rules to save lives! Washington starts off telling you they want to make the rails safer, then loads in a bunch of crap spending that bloats the bill so it's enormous and overspending would occur. The Amtrak addition is only part of it; they want to fund 1.5 billion to Washington Metro Transit as well in the same bill. No wonder it's not passing the senate as of today, Friday September 26. At least one Senator, Coburn, has the guts to stand up against the pork and says no to many of the additions. Mr. Coburn states the taxpayers shouldn't be subsidizing food and beverage service aboard Amtrak and there should be performance metrics for Amtrak to meet which has never been required. Plus local authorities and passengers should fund local transit systems. Good for you, Senator Coburn! Although you'll be criticized for standing in the way of safety, I see you as a pork barrel killer and you're the man!
Finally, California wants us to pass a huge 9.9 billion dollar bond to build a high speed rail line that will travel at 200 miles per hour between San Francisco and Los Angeles to start and then, just maybe, some other areas in the future. Not with my money! The total cost will allegedly be around 30 billion with 1/3 from the feds and 1/3 from private funds, but you know how that eventually goes. This state can't run anything right and to think they should run a high speed rail line is asinine to say the least. Imagine a head -on crash or a derail at 200? And the bureaucracy and maintenance costs not to mention the construction overruns? Right...vote for this and you're slitting your wrists and throat all at once with a rusty razor! We already have a High-Speed Rail Authority costing taxpayers a bunch without even having a high speed rail line. Now ain't that sweet political bureaucrap? I'll bet the people would be very unhappy about having a Police Authority with no Police Departments or Highway Authority with no roads... Just a case of being fleeced once again.
In short, 25 people died and a bunch of politicians jumped on the bandwagon to either shine in some light of purported change, or in one case, to actually try and do good. I seldom say anything good about Diane Feinstein, but I believe she actually tried to do the right thing here in the bill's original inception. However, once the political system got hold of it, they fly papered it with so much pork that it's just a vestige of its former safety bill. And once the railroads get through lobbying and balking, 2015 won't even see the results completed. More bodies will have to lie on the tracks and under smoldering train wrecks before another round of politics moves this forward very far. Sad but true.