President Bush is accused of appointing unqualified people to the board of Amtrak after sacking its respected chief executive.

The chairman is now David Laney, a Texas lawyer who distinguished himself by raising £55,000 for the campaign to re-elect George Bush as president and Dick Cheney as vice president.

Another board member appointed by Mr Bush is Floyd Hall who reportedly raised £200,000 "soft money" contributions for the Bush-Cheney machine since 2000.

The third Bush-appointed member, Enrique Sosa, admitted he had never ridden on an Amtrak train before his appointment.

But Mr Bush fired the chief executive officer David Gunn, a 40-year rail professional, who “has forgotten more about passenger rail than the three private-sector Amtrak board members combined have ever known”.

Mr Gunn is said to have been fired because he refused to take a blood oath to carry out a "kill Amtrak from within" strategy.

The White House wants the Amtrak board to copy the British pattern of rail privatisation.

American transport expert Edward Wytkind said: “That catastrophe caused years of rampant delays, steep fare increases, higher accident and injury rates, and apoplectic passengers.”

He added: “Every industrial country needs a strong national passenger rail system to be competitive and all provide subsidies because it is in the national interest, just as the US government rightly subsidises our mass transit, highway, aviation and waterway systems.

“So why is the Amtrak board trying to flout reality and the bipartisan will of Congress? Perhaps it has something to do with the administration's five-year pattern of making public assets instruments of private gain.

“Instead of blocking this plan, as responsible stewards of Amtrak would, the board has embraced it.”

Information from “Enemies all aboard Amtrak” by Edward Wytkind in the Baltimore Sun.

Read the full story: