2 dead, 70 injured as Amtrak train collides with freight train in South Carolina

At least two people were killed and 70 injured early Sunday when an Amtrak passenger train collided with a CSX freight train in South Carolina — the third deadly wreck involving Amtrak in less than two months.

The crash, which involved Amtrak Train 91 heading from New York to Miami, occurred at 2:35 a.m. in Cayce, S.C., about 10 miles south of Columbia, according to Derrec Becker of South Carolina Emergency Management.

Both fatalities were Amtrak employees on the passenger train, Gov. Henry McMaster said in a press conference Sunday.

The CSX train was parked on what appears to be a side track when the Amtrak train slammed into it at about 59 mph, McMaster said. Of the 139 people on the Amtrak train, 116 people were taken to hospitals, he said.

Palmetto Health Director of Emergency Preparedness Dr. Steve Shelton says one patient is in critical condition and two are in serious conditions, with the rest suffering minor injuries, like cuts and bruises.

Passenger injuries ranged from scratches to broken bones, Lexington County spokesman Harrison Cahill said.

Regional Plan Association rail overhaul dead without Gateway Project


The Regional Plan Association’s massive overhaul plan of the area’s commuter rail system is stillborn without the $13 billion Gateway Project, the organization says.

The ambitious plan that would provide Rockland a one-seat ride in Manhattan and the same from White Plains to downtown Brooklyn was one of the most notable recommendations in the RPA’s latest regional plan. Much of the first phase counts on Gateway’s new rail infrastructure, new Hudson River tunnel and existing tunnel rehabilitation.

But federal funding for that project is now in doubt. And without that money, the outlook is grim.

“It doesn’t happen,” RPA Senior Vice President and Chief Planner Chris Jones said in an editorial board meeting with the Journal News/lohud Thursday morning.

General Electric Company Stock Is Worth the Risk

JAMES BRUMLEY, InvestorPlace

In mid-December, I made a point of saying General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) was a buy, not because the company was facing an unexpectedly bright future, but because the beat-down of GE stock had become excessive.

If nothing else, relatively new CEO John Flannery was making some tough-but-good decisions that would put the iconic company back on a bullish track that few were expecting it to find anytime soon.

Since then, the company disclosed that its insurance division of its remaining financial arm will be booking a $6.2 billion charge stemming from what was, ultimately, a mathematical mistake. In the meantime, the SEC has decided that matter is worth a closer look. General Electric stock is down about 9% since my call in December, with the prospect of being removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average weighing on shares.

Nevertheless, I’m sticking with my original thesis. If you can stomach the risk and deal with the inevitable volatility, this is a name worthy of a little bit of your speculative money.

The Game Is Afoot
I said it before, but it merits repeating now: if you’re looking for a strong fundamental argument to support my bullish case on GE stock, don’t hold your breath. Sales are barely going to grow this fiscal year or next and earnings are stagnant as well. The company’s got problems galore.

That superficial picture didn’t improve with its recently reported fourth quarter numbers either. Stifel Nicolaus analyst Robert McCarthy called them “messy, underwhelming” results and nobody argued his assessment.

Problem is, for better or worse, that’s not how the modern market works.

Reality check: Stocks don’t trade based on trailing fundamentals. They don’t even always trade on forward-looking forecasts. Mostly, they trade based on what investors expect other investors to feel about a stock at X date in the future.

It certainly makes things interesting and, often, tough. If you know those are the unspoken rules of the game, though (and right now, for GE stock, they are), then you know the worst-case scenario is already priced in. You won’t get the bullish green light from actual results until well after the fact.

I take some comfort in knowing that Gamco Investors’ Mario Gabelli sees the same outcome that I do on the horizon. He recently added $40 million worth of GE stock to an existing position, suggesting shares could be trading in the $20’s again within a couple of years. Truth be told, though, that’s not the only — or prevailing — reason I’m optimistic, despite the backdrop of pessimism. I’m also bullish because (in all seriousness) the market absolutely hates GE stock here.

The specifics: On a scale of 1 to 5 (where 5 is a “sell” and 1 is a “strong buy”), General Electric holds an average rating of 2.7, which is just a tad better than a “hold”. Knowing the implicit bullish bias analysts tend to harbor, however, that’s the professionals’ unspoken equivalent to a “steer clear” recommendation. It’s compelling, because effectively, there’s not a lot more room for downgrade-driven downside.