Here is a “letter to the editor” that really sets things straight. It is a response to the highly favorable story which ran just a few days ago in the same paper.
Meant to Commit Suicide, Amtrak Does a Hercules
August 31, 2007; Page A7
Crowds do indeed heed Amtrak’s “All Aboard” (Aug. 23) and have since it was created 37 years ago, despite the fact it was incorporated as a political contrivance to relieve private railroads of their obligations, and to then go quietly out of business. Since 1970 Amtrak’s strengths have somehow outweighed its weaknesses as it has struggled to serve many different masters seeking many conflicting political, economic and social goals. Despite being created in order to commit suicide, Amtrak has performed with Herculean (or, perhaps, Sisyphian) fortitude.
The notion that Northeast Corridor passenger service will somehow be improved by stripping Amtrak of its permanent capital assets is a cynical ploy. A similar scheme in England proved to be a hugely expensive, deadly mistake. If Balkanizing railroad operations and divorcing them from integral assets such as utility corridors, real estate development rights is such a good idea, why don’t other Class One railroads hasten to do it?
Describing the administration’s plan to provide states with “matching” funds for intercity passenger rail service also left unmentioned that national highway funding has for years been split 80%/20% federal/state, while the Bush administration’s proposal was 50/50.