Kip is a looter politician who is largely to blame for the disaster. He is on his way to a campaign rally when the train he is on breaks down. In his impatience to get moving again, and his refusal to listen to facts, Kip threatens everyone within earshot with the wrath of Washington if they don't get him to his rally on time. Kip has serious entitlement issues:
"If you don't get me an engine and don't start that train, you can kiss goodbye to your jobs, your work permits and this whole goddamn railroad!" (22.214.171.124)
Charming. In the days before YouTube, Kip could totally get away with this and still run for public office. With fear of reprisals driving them, the Taggart Transcontinental employees involved here make deadly decisions. Kip is also shown to be not just a jerk politician but someone with bad morals: he's traveling with his mistress and some other questionable people. Kip demonstrates the negative influence that Washington has over people in this novel.