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Old 04-11-2010, 10:43 PM
 
9,194 posts, read 9,273,624 times
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Back in the 1960s when the train service was done by the individual railroads, there used to be really great service that arrived on time and there were generally very good service.

Since the passenger service was nationalized, service barely exists in the midwest AND what does exist never runs on time.

.................................................. .................................................. ..

Its a popular refrain to blame all of Amtrak's woes on "nationalization", but its not really accurate.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the railroads all concluded that it was not profitable to run passenger trains. Automobiles and airlines were providing more and more competition by the year. As a result, the railroads stopped investing in passenger cars, track repairs, and train stations. They sought approval from the Interstate Commerce Commission to terminate route after route. The railroads eventually got their wishes. In the sixties, the service many railroads were providing was very poor. It was the railroads way of trying to get the ICC to allow them to terminate unprofitable routes.

By 1970, with only a couple of exceptions, passenger rail service had ceased to exist in the USA. The railroads had literally fought government for the right to end it.

Congress, the labor unions, and some members of the public didn't want to see passenger rail service come to an end. The only solution that existed was for government to take over what was left of passenger rail service. Consequently, Congress created Amtrak. Amtrak took over a network of private railroads, stations, and rollingstock that was in extremely poor condition. Amtrak has also had to battle with the fact that railroads are heavily unionized. As a result, labor costs are higher than in most industries.

There are frequent complaints about the subsidies that Amtrak receives from the government, but the reality is that the automobile industry is far more heavily subsidized with a network of highways that are paid for by gasoline taxes. Railroads have to pay for all their track maintenance and repair costs.

Routes have fallen off simply because they aren't profitable. Amtrak leaders have made no secret of the fact that they don't make profits on train routes largely because of heavy labor costs. What they do is provide an alternative means of transportation that is fuel efficient and creates less air pollution per mile of travel than automobiles produce. Amtrak can show statistics showing a steady increase in ridership for almost ten consecutive years.

I have mixed feelings about Amtrak. I guess I count myself as a "train lover". Those of us who were realists never expected it to make a profit. The aim was more towards preserving passenger rail service and losing as little money as possible. Amtrak could be better run. It was created around 70', 71' or so. It has existed for forty years. Perhaps, after 40 years its time to take a look at the whole concept again? I admit I am conflicted.
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Old 04-12-2010, 11:36 AM
 
14,260 posts, read 23,995,588 times
Reputation: 20072
^^^

All the tired cliches about Amtrak in one post.

If we are going to subsidize any form of transportation -and have you ever heard of fuel taxes (even though they are raided for mass transportation) - should we do it for the form of transpoeration favored by 90% of Americans or should we subsidize the transportation prefered by the Northeastern and Washington elites?
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Old 04-12-2010, 01:04 PM
 
14,253 posts, read 15,334,945 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlawrence01 View Post
^^^

All the tired cliches about Amtrak in one post.

If we are going to subsidize any form of transportation -and have you ever heard of fuel taxes (even though they are raided for mass transportation) - should we do it for the form of transpoeration favored by 90% of Americans or should we subsidize the transportation prefered by the Northeastern and Washington elites?
The answer to that question is that you need to look at a balanced transportation infrastructure favoring rail where it makes sense, air where it makes sense and roads where they make sense. There are parts of the US where investing (or subsidizing) in rail makes more sense than building new roads. The Northeast corridor is a good example of that. There are other areas where improving roads makes more sense than building a rail line. Where I live in Arizona is a good example of that.

Rail is ideal for city to city services at distances of up to 300 miles. It is ideal in densely populated areas where roads, bridges, tunnels and parking lots are saturated. It is ideal for local commuter traffic in densely populated areas.
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Old 04-13-2010, 12:55 AM
 
Location: On the Rails in Northern NJ
12,381 posts, read 23,376,922 times
Reputation: 4519
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlawrence01 View Post
^^^

All the tired cliches about Amtrak in one post.

If we are going to subsidize any form of transportation -and have you ever heard of fuel taxes (even though they are raided for mass transportation) - should we do it for the form of transportation favored by 90% of Americans or should we subsidize the transportation preferred by the Northeastern and Washington elites?
Seeing that almost 400,000 use the Northeast Corridor daily , yes we should. Only around 4,000 are Washington Elites form what my friend says. The spur routes that Amtrak plans to restore will add another 70,000 daily. + the Northeast is the most populated part of the US and drives half of the economy.
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Old 04-13-2010, 12:40 PM
 
Location: Eureka CA
8,255 posts, read 11,118,694 times
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California will be building high speed rail at least between SF,LA and Sacramento and the daily "Capitol Corridor" train between Oakland and Sacramento is frequently sold out. Rail is definitely in our future and must be if we are to lessen our reliance on fossil fuels.
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Old 04-26-2010, 05:18 PM
 
Location: Great white north
88 posts, read 166,346 times
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The focus of transportation has to be multifacited and rail has to be part of that. It can not be done with over priced labor force, unmaintained rolling stock and bad rail infrastructure. Investment into rail is not only wanted - it is necessary. The commercial airline industry dug it's own grave - it is also headed for nationalization so expect the declining service to continue. Until this nation is ready to address the whole transportation issue in this country expect more of the same.
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Old 04-27-2010, 05:12 PM
 
Location: 5 years in Southern Maryland, USA
791 posts, read 2,460,227 times
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My family has taken a great many trips on Amtrak, because my wife has a great phobia of all interstate highways, and she and the children just want to dawdle and loiter at frequent rest-stops so we can never cover any distance by road - it has been this way for 16 years.

The Auto Train which runs non-stop from Wash DC to near Orlando, is great and has a consistent on-time record. Other routes however are very unreliable and subject to long delays due to having to yield right of way to Freight trains, as well as animals on the track, flooded track, and mechanical problems. The scenery is great on routes such as the Hudson River route and the Appalachian mountains. In northeast Missouri our train was very shaky. At New Haven CT, trains always have to pause to switch to locomotives with a different power source.

I can't understand why it takes 8 hours to go from Wash DC or Baltimore, to Pittsburgh PA, at a creeping snails pace around hairpin turns using the same tracks laid originally in the 1840s - - when a car can cover the same distance in 4 or 5 hours, the entire way at expressway speeds. I also can't understand why a huge city like Atlanta has such a small station.
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Old 04-27-2010, 08:37 PM
 
14,253 posts, read 15,334,945 times
Reputation: 13682
Quote:
Originally Posted by slowlane View Post
My family has taken a great many trips on Amtrak, because my wife has a great phobia of all interstate highways, and she and the children just want to dawdle and loiter at frequent rest-stops so we can never cover any distance by road - it has been this way for 16 years.

The Auto Train which runs non-stop from Wash DC to near Orlando, is great and has a consistent on-time record. Other routes however are very unreliable and subject to long delays due to having to yield right of way to Freight trains, as well as animals on the track, flooded track, and mechanical problems. The scenery is great on routes such as the Hudson River route and the Appalachian mountains. In northeast Missouri our train was very shaky. At New Haven CT, trains always have to pause to switch to locomotives with a different power source.

I can't understand why it takes 8 hours to go from Wash DC or Baltimore, to Pittsburgh PA, at a creeping snails pace around hairpin turns using the same tracks laid originally in the 1840s - - when a car can cover the same distance in 4 or 5 hours, the entire way at expressway speeds. I also can't understand why a huge city like Atlanta has such a small station.
Because for years and years, investment has gone into roads and air and not rail. If rail had equivalent investment then we would have an excellent network.
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Old 04-28-2010, 07:29 AM
 
Location: London, KY
718 posts, read 1,454,420 times
Reputation: 538
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaggy001 View Post
Because for years and years, investment has gone into roads and air and not rail. If rail had equivalent investment then we would have an excellent network.
Try living in a region that has ZERO passenger rail service. It's a joke that we live in a first world country and have a puny rail network. I guess as long as we keep the auto industry fed?
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