Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

From the Wall Street Journal

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.

Peter Hine
New York

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Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

One Response

  1. Ran says:

    It always seemed pretty clear to me that if a state has a million bucks to put towards transportation, the way things have been for ages has been that they could then purchase a million dollars of rail, or ferry, or bike path solutions. Or they could put their million on the table, grab another four million from the Feds, and then go build five million dollars worth of roads. Who wouldn’t build roads under that structure?

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