Rachel Maddow went on a righteous rant about the state of the country's infrastructure on her show Wednesday, assailing government officials for failing to implement technology that could have prevented the derailment of Amtrak 188.
"We are a great nation that has allowed the world-class national infrastructure, that our grandparents built and our parents handed down to us, to erode and suffer and starve to the point that it is decrepit and deadly," Maddow said on her show. "And this is a failure of governance. This is on Congress' head."
The MSNBC host argued that the Amtrak crash outside of Philadelphia, which happened when the train hit a sharp turn at more than 100 miles per hour and derailed, would not have happened had a positive train control system been in place. Positive train control systems monitor trains and their movement to improve safety: They also enforce speed limits, to ensure trains are not too close together or on a collision course and to protect work crews.
"There's no mystery about this disaster in Philadelphia and what cost all of those lives in all of those places -- and there will be no mystery when it happens again," Maddow said.
Congress passed a law in 2008 requiring Amtrak to install positive train control systems along all its routes, but the deadline for completion isn't until the end of 2015. The stretch of track on which Amtrak 188 was traveling had not been outfitted with the system. The industry is pushing to extend the deadline to 2020.
Maddow characterized the problem more broadly, saying the U.S. has failed to invest in infrastructure across the board, despite high levels of public support. While trains in Spain travel an average of 154 miles per hour and those in Japan top out at over 200, Amtrak's average speed is a sluggish 65 miles per hour.
The government has to do something to improve the nation's infrastructure, Maddow said. "Honestly, as a nation we just can't be bothered to get stuff like this done."
Within hours of the train derailment, House Republicans voted to cut funding to Amtrak by $251 million to $1.14 billion -- less than half of the $2.45 billion the Obama administration had requested.