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Statement on Amtrak Derailment

Congress Should Enable Amtrak to Travel Faster than 100 mph on a Safe, High-Performance Rail System
For Immediate Release

Statement by Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr on the May 12th Amtrak derailment along a curved stretch of track near Philadelphia. Reports indicate the train was traveling 106 miles per hour on a curve designated as safe for travel at 50 mph.

“This is a horrible tragedy, and our condolences to those whose family and friends have been lost or injured. Events like this must be prevented. And while a thorough investigation will take time, there are some things we know now.”

“Marylanders deserve access to safe, reliable, and efficient travel options. Our policy makers should take the long view. We need commitment to creating a world-class passenger rail system where travelling 106 miles per hour would be seen as shockingly slow, not fast. High-performance tracks and other technology should enable substantially faster speeds, safely.”

“America lags far behind our international competitors when it comes to our passenger rail system. In Japan and much of Europe, travelling at 106 mph is not particularly fast, and truly high speeds are closer to 200 mph. Japan’s bullet trains crisscross their nation with utter reliability. They have never had a fatality.”

“On our major highways, we do not accept dangerously sharp turns. We invest what it takes to ensure vehicles can travel at their cruising speeds. The Northeast Corridor, which runs through Baltimore and connects D.C. and New York City, is one of the world’s densest population areas and home to tremendous economic activity with ever-expanding demand for rail travel.

“We all know people who ride the Northeast Corridor regularly. This our rail line, and we deserve faster, safer, service. Over the long term, we should no more accept a 50 mph curve along this route than we would a permanent 15 mph zone on the Interstate.

You can read Maryland PIRG’s latest report here (link) exposing misunderstandings about transportation funding that lead to misallocation of resources and an endless lurching from one funding crisis to the next.

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