Time for Dems to apologize for their ghoulish 'infratstructure' claims in Amtrak disaster
Even before the bodies were all recovered, Democrats started blaming Republicans for the accident, alleging that Amtrak had been starved of capital investment, causing the crash. Now, those claims have been revealed to be utterly false in the strongest possible fashion. Not only was the train drive speeding, but the vaunted Positive Train Control (PTC) system that could have prevented the crash was already installed on the section of track where the accident happened. Alan Neuhauser of US News reports:
A computer system that allows speeding trains to be slowed remotely – potentially averting deadly derailments – was installed in the section of track in Philadelphia where Tuesday’s fatal Amtrak crash occurred but had not been turned on, congressional sources tell U.S. News.
“The PTC was installed in the section of track where the Philadelphia accident occurred, but for whatever reason had not been turned on, the PTC in that section,” Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., tells U.S. News, referring to "positive train control."
His account was corroborated by Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md.
“The tracks had PTC, the train had PTC,” Harris says.
Both congressmen are members of the House Appropriations Committee, which contacted Amtrak for more information about the crash.
There were delays in turning on the system because of the particular spectrum Amtrak wanted to use, and because of “testing”:
"According to Amtrak, PTC was installed in the section of track where the Philly accident occurred," a committee source writes in an email to U.S. News. "There have been delays in 'turning it on' associated with FCC dealings and getting the bandwidth to upgrade the radios from 900 MHz to something higher (for more reliability)."
Amtrak's application for the bandwidth needed to use the positive train control system was approved in "early March," an FCC official says.
“The spectrum Amtrak wanted to use in 2011 was owned by someone else," the official says. "It took them three more years to negotiate with private parties to acquire the needed spectrum for the Washington, D.C.-to-New York corridor. Once Amtrak finalized their application, the commission approved it within two days.”
Amtrak President Joseph Boardman said Thursday the technology was installed where the crash occurred, according to The Associated Press, but it had not been turned on because the system needed to be tested further.
Among the many Democrats explicitly blaming lack of investment for the crash was Chuck Schumer, presumed to be the heir to Harry Reid as leader of the Senate Democrats:
“It is simply a fact that insufficient funding for Amtrak has delayed the installation of PTC, and to deny a connection between the accident and underfunding Amtrak is to deny reality,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who called claims to the contrary "patently false."
Senator Schumer owes us an apology.
Hat tip: Mike Baehr