Privatizing part of Amtrak proposed

May 27, 2011 at 12:19 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 27 (UPI) -- A Republican committee chairman in the U.S. House has proposed turning over Amtrak's Washington to Boston rail route to the private sector.

House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., ran into a wall of Democratic opposition to his proposal, The Washington Post reported Friday.

Mica said Amtrak had "one of the most dismal records on earth for any rail service, particularly in the Northeast Corridor." He proposed having private funds step in to complete a high-speed rail project that would operate in the country.

The private sector could complete the project in 10 years and turn it into a profitable venture, he said.

Democrats quickly objected to the proposal. "The railroads didn't want to run a railroad. They went bankrupt on passenger service. They begged the government to take it," said Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.

Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., pointed out, "There is no form of transportation that supports itself. I don't support cherry-picking the best routes in our system and turning them over to the private sector."

If the proposal was to pass, the private sector would be willing to step in, said Ignacio Jayanti, president of the private equity firm Corsair Capital.

"There are significant private-sector dollars that are available," Jayanti told the committee.

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