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Amtrak CEO Takes Car to Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony After Train Breaks Down

Adam Summers
March 30, 2011, 11:49pm

A funny thing happened on the way to the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Amtrak's newly-renovated and re-named Joseph R. Biden Jr. Railroad Station in Wilmington, Delaware, but we'll get to that in a minute. First, some background.

Amtrak renovated the Wilmington station over the course of 18 months at a cost of $37.7 million, including $20 million in stimulus money. That was $5.7 million more than the original advertised price of $32 million, a cost overrun of nearly 18%. In a way, it is fitting that the station was renamed in honor of the vice president, not only because he served as senator for the State of Delaware for 36 years, but because of the sad legacy of the wasteful stimulus bill and Biden's role as "sheriff" overseeing the stimulus funds. According to a Washington Times article, Biden said he "heavily influenced the amount of money" that Amtrak was awarded under the stimulus package. Apparently, it still wasn't enough. It never is. And Biden wants $53 billion over the next six years for high-speed rail? Heaven help us.

Now to the ribbon-cutting ceremony. One of the honored guests at the ceremony was Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman. Unfortunately, Boardman was running late to the ceremony. The delicious irony is that Boardman was running behind because the Amtrak Acela Express train he was riding to Wilmington broke down, so he had to ditch the train and take a car to get to the ceremony. According to an article from The Daily Caller,

ABC News Deputy Political Director & Political Reporter Michael Falcone tweeted at approximately 10 a.m. that the Acela train he was riding had been “delayed” in Baltimore and that he was sitting next to Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman.

Falcone tweeted, “Acela to NY delayed for ‘unknown period’ Should I feel better that the Amtrak CEO is sitting next to me?”

It quickly became apparent that the CEO’s presence wouldn’t fix the train. A subsequent tweet from Falcone noted, “BAD sign: Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman just got OFF the train to take a car to Wilmington.”

“Amtrak CEO abandoned his own train to make ribbon cutting ceremony for Joe Biden station in Wilmington,” Falcone reported. “When I told Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman it was a bad sign he was ditching the stranded Acela, he chuckled.”

An Amtrak spokesman offered “no comment” to ABC News on the incident.

So the station ended up costing significantly more than advertised and the train still couldn't get there on time. That's government rail, and especially high-speed rail, in a nutshell.

Related Research and Commentary:

» The Tampa to Orlando High-Speed Rail Project: Florida Taxpayer Risk Assessment

» The California High-Speed Rail Proposal: A Due Diligence Report

» "State voters were railroaded" (San Diego Union-Tribune)


Adam Summers is Senior Policy Analyst


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