How Amtrak Became a Political Football

Lawmakers have long been divided on how much, if anything, the federal government should spend on passenger rail service.

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: Amtrak's new Acela Express train is seen against the Manhattan skyline as it heads to Boston, 16 November 2000. The train rode from Washington DC to New York to Boston, with regular service expected to begin 11 December. The Acela Express is the first high-speed rail service in North America, moving across the Northeast at a top speed of 150 mph.

Photographer: Doug Kanter/AFP

Tuesday night's derailment of an Amtrak train outside Philadelphia is putting a spotlight on the government-subsidized passenger line's aging infrastructure and the ongoing debate over the future of rail service — and the degree to which those have become partisan issues.

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