Paul  Weyrich

The 111th Congress recently passed an authorization bill which provides more money for Amtrak than any bill passed in history. President George W. Bush signed the bill. For the first time Amtrak has been granted more money than required to keep the railroad operating. True it is that the appropriators will determine how much money Amtrak actually receives. But for the first time the President-elect has said he supports Amtrak. Moreover, the Vice President-elect rode Amtrak to and from Wilmington, Delaware every day Congress was in session from 1973 through 2008. He said, "I intend to see to it that Amtrak will become a first-class railroad." Amtrak has been carrying a record number of passengers on almost all its trains. Even with gas prices dropping Amtrak has continued to set new records. This is as close to Nirvana as it gets.

So why would Alex Kummant abruptly resign at this moment when an Amtrak President finally can accomplish something? The explanation given by Amtrak itself was inadequate and maybe disingenuous. He has been unavailable to comment. Amtrak officials zipped up like a third-grader's snowsuit. We don't know whom the Board has in mind to take Kummant's place. Amtrak Presidents in the post-Graham Claytor era have not lasted long. With a new more sympathetic Congress, some stability would be appreciated.

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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