Amtrak Back on the Rails

President Bush last week signed a bill that contains new railroad safety regulations, as well as more than $2.5 billion per year in funding for upgrades to Amtrak for the next five years. According to the North Jersey's Bergen Record, this is the first commitment of federal funds to the beleaguered train system--which we featured (and lamented) in GOOD issue 011--since 2002. The Associated Press reports that Bush may have caved to the funding half of the bill because of the hot-button items devoted to increased safety--an issue that's become more pressing since the death of 25 people last month in a two-train collision in L.A.The money, some of which is mandated for repairing the well-trafficked corridor from Boston to Washington, D.C., has to be approved each year by Congress. It comes, however, at an opportune moment: Amtrak recently reported record ridership of nearly 29 million people-more than a 10 percent increase from last year. Maybe it owes VP candidate Joe Biden a hat tip for a bump in its good fortune.Photo from Flickr user reivax.