by Brendan M. Lynch | August 01, 2005
After halting its high-speed Acela trains this spring due to brake-disc cracks, Amtrak resumed  some of its Acela Express service along the Northeast corridor in mid-July, with full resumption slated for this fall.
    The restart of Acela service  came after months of uncertainty for the nation’s only passenger rail network. First, in February, the Bush administration’s fiscal 2006 budget proposal eliminated Amtrak’s funding, a move designed to force the railway into a major reduction of its operations.
    Then, in April, Amtrak inspectors made a disturbing discovery: cracked brake discs on all 20 Acela trains. The budget woes and brake problems threw the future of the railway into serious doubt.
    Summer brought better news: The funding denial was reversed by the U.S. House of Representatives. And, at press time, a Senate appropriations subcommittee cleared a bill that would provide Amtrak with $1.4 billion for 2006. That must be OK’d by the full Senate and then by Congress.
    But the outlook remains shaky for the railway. After the House restored funding, Norman Y. Mineta, secretary of transportation, remarked, “Handing over more than a billion dollars with no reforms attached only gives Amtrak a blank check to continue misspending taxpayer money.”