LABOR ISSUES will dominate Amtrak's efforts at reform, but another concern - liability for accidents - is also critical to the company's future.
Throughout most of the nation, Amtrak operates on track owned by freight railroads. Yet, those companies, as providers of the track, are exposed to the risk of lawsuits in an Amtrak accident and must pass their higher insurance costs on to Amtrak. House Republicans are pushing a plan that would limit the liability by restricting damages for pain and suffering to $250,000 per person. This provision, a target of trial lawyers, was killed earlier in a subcommittee vote. It should be restored. Amtrak has plenty of incentives to operate safely. It should not have to shoulder the added burden of open-ended liability.