Could Amtrak Funding Cuts Compromise Safety in Virginia?

Future funding for six regional Amtrak services in Virginia has been put at risk by a new federal budget proposal that "threatens to end funding for regional Amtrak service at a time when Virginia is expanding passenger rail in the state and has no source of operating money for the trains," the Virginian-Pilot reported.

Although the implications are unclear, experts fear it could threaten the service to Newport News, VA, and the one set to come to Norfolk, VA, in two years' time.

The House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee in Washington, DC, is considering cutting Amtrak's budget by a massive 60 percent, including all state-supported routes in 15 states, the Pilot reported.

As an experienced Virginia (VA) railroad injury/FELA attorney, I'm concerned by any plan to cut money from rail services. Typically, cutting costs can equate to cutting corners when it comes to safety and Amtrak is no stranger to accidents on the railway.

See this video of an Amtrak train hitting a fire truck.

Recently, we reported on how Amtrak's California Zephyr, which runs between Chicago and Los Angeles, was involved in its second serious accident in two months when it derailed in Nebraska (NE), after striking a farm vehicle on August 26, 2011. This derailment led to 22 passengers being injured, some of them seriously.

In 2009 we noted how Amtrak was involved in numerous accidents in North Carolina (NC). In 2008, Amtrak had 92 train accidents and close to 1,500 train incidences in which nearly 120 people were killed. 

In July 2011 we reported on a privatization proposal for Amtrak and echoed concerns that safety could be further compromised for both workers and passengers.

We have represented a considerable number of clients in cases against Amtrak, including a employee who was seriously injured in the winter because of a failure to fix a leaking water pipe in the water box at the railroad station in Richmond, VA. She slipped and hurt her knee. The case was settled for $150,000.



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