Amtrak to go private?

friscobob Jun 17, 2011

  1. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    My last trip on the EB, #7 was late, due to flooding back east. Obviously not the fault of Amtrak in any way. On the return leg, #8 was actually in early! Not sure how they managed that. But my ride home arrived at the expected time and I had been waiting between ten and fifteen 15 minutes. I spoke with the engineer and he just smiled about it.
     
  2. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

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    The Southwest Chief has always had a better on time record than most of the other intercity trains. BNSF I guess still feels that keeping it on time is their job just like it was for the Superchief.
     
  3. JNXT 7707

    JNXT 7707 TrainBoard Member

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    Good point, but not really hard to figure out. "So many people" in our population don't think about things, they go by what the media tells them. Today it's trendy to say Amtrak and public rail should be scrapped. "So many people" do not read Trains magazine or are even aware of it - nor would they have an interest. Railroads are "choo-choo trains".
    Sorry I am getting ever more cynical in my senior years :tb-confused:
     
  4. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    It is unfortunate that most Americans younger than 50-ish view trains as a possible diversion, like going to zoo, or the beach, but not as public transportation.

    The 10 years before retirement, I took Amtrak's Crescent from Slidell, LA to Alexandria, VA every few months for one-day meetings with my customers. The northbound got me to our office by 9:30 in the morning, and the evening schedule allowed time for an adult beverage in WAS Union Station before the southbound left at 6:30.

    The first time I did this and turned in my expense report, the Finance Director, about 40 years old, challenged why I had "spent so much money taking the train". I explained that the airline schedules, though faster travel, required that I fly the day before and rent a hotel room in Alexandria. Then, again due to airline schedules, I would need another hotel room after the meeting, and fly the following day. After I explained that the round trip airfare would have been $1250, and the two rooms would have been $180 each, whereas the round trip Crescent fare, including sleepers, was $735, thus saving the company $875, he never said another word.

    Also, I don't remember the Crescent ever being late into Alexandria, even the one time that a CSX coal train crossed the NS tracks 200 yards south of the Charlottesville, VA station causing us to cool our heels for 20 minutes.
     
  5. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

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    I think plenty of people under 50 think of transit trains and regional routes as viable. It's intercity travel which has fallen by. Mainly because it takes so long.
     
  6. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Even with bullet trains, US long distance rail will never compete head to head with the speed of air travel. There will still be hours of difference. And living amongst so many who seek instant gratification these days, they'll still mostly opt to fly.
     
  7. SecretWeapon

    SecretWeapon TrainBoard Member

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    :thumbs_up::thumbs_up:
     
  8. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    This part is even funnier:

    'Amtrak was created from the remnants of failed privately owned passenger railroads in 1971.'


    Just in case you thought Reuters was a reliable news source, now you know better. Yeah, the northeast corridor could fit that description. But the rest of the system is nothing of the sort.

    Yeah, they're going to sell off the high-traffic corridor that they actually own. But as for reversing the process that created Amtrak and letting these railroads have the freedom to provide their own passenger service again without the ICC making them run unprofitable routes, no. This makes too much sense. Besides, once the government takes power, no matter how big a mistake it was, it never gives that power up.

    Unless they can get some kickbacks from some 'private investors', that is.

    I still can't believe you could go from New York to Chicago four hours faster in 1936 than you can today. But then, it's government, so yes I can believe that.
     
  9. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

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    last year, my now 14 year old niece was asked where the Vietnam War was faught...her answer was "Vermont"...and she goes to the smart kids school....
     
  10. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    At the Fourth of July weekend, just this past summer, someone I know had three female college students in his business. They were sitting there having a thumbs down style conversation about WWII and how we became involved. One of them loudly proclaimed that if we, (the USA), had not bombed Japan, they'd have not bombed Pearl Harbor. The other two agreed. Umm, say what? That person I know of was stunned and left speechless. College students? Simply disgraceful. :tb-mad: :thumbs_down:
     
  11. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    What college was that? Mine never said that, but then again our History Department was made up of ex CIA agents and Vietnam vets.
     
  12. trainman-ho

    trainman-ho TrainBoard Member

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    I may be way off here, but I think the majority of passenger service world wide is government owned, sponsored, or subsidized.

    Like I said I may be wrong, but I recently read that the chinese bullet trains have put that government 200 billion in the red.

    Course, I live in Yarmouth Nova Scotia.....almost 200 miles from the nearest railroad track (except in museums)

    Jim
     
  13. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    This is back in New York. I'd need to try remembering to ask him, next time.
     
  14. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Yes. But down in Australia, the Indian-Pacific Express (one of the finest trains in all the world) is privately run.

    Amtrak didn't need to happen, except for the very corridor these people are thinking of selling off. And the eight states through which those tracks operate could have taken that route over themselves, and saved the rest of the nation from having to subsidize it. Which would have been fair enough, considering that's one of the wealthiest parts of this country, and they really don't need our welfare.

    As for the rest of the country, all that was needed to save the private enterprise passenger service was for Nixon to do what Reagan did--end the ICC. That's it; nothing more.
     
  15. FLG

    FLG TrainBoard Member

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    never work without government money. All cross country routes but maybe one or two will get slashed and only the NE, Cali Coast, the commuter services, and maybe the ones in Florida would remain. Most people wont sit in a train to get from one coast to the other when it takes 3-5 days where they would rather shell out +$300 to fly in a matter of hours
     
  16. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Well, the article talks only about the Northeast--specifically the Boston-Harrisburg-Washington triangle, which is all the track Anthrax--er, I mean Amtrak owns.

    That said, I think it could go private and work fine. People board cruise ships when they could fly the same route. All it would take for someone to make a train appealing enough that people would want to spend time on it would be for someone besides the damned federal government to make the effort.

    Hell, people go on vacation and buy a hotel for two weeks. Why not spend a few days on each end seeing what's between here and there--especially if The Rockies happen to be between here and there? It would cost no more that the airfare plus what you save on the extra several days' hotel room. Less when you figure in car rental savings. And this nation is as beautiful as it ever was.

    Plus, why wouldn't a business traveler who happens to be going to a city seven hundred miles away on business, if the train is scheduled right, get on the train at eleven p.m. and go to sleep in a roomette instead of getting up at three a.m. to catch the redeye? Either way, he gets downtown at eight, right?

    Add the fact that we could probably get the sexual predators of the TSA out of the train stations (are you going to fly a train into a building? Really?) and trains could look mighty good. If we could get someone competent to run them (lets the fedgov out).
     
  17. FLG

    FLG TrainBoard Member

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    i would call the TSA sexual ninjas as you never know which will jumpout at you hahaha

    our trains dont go to the tropical islands nor mexico....well KCS does

    but still, gotta get a lot of help to make it work
     
  18. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    I still respectfully disagree. The Indian-Pacific does all right. At least half a dozen railroads would never have signed onto Railpax if it weren't for the ICC. The free market could have worked, and it could work even better now that trains have come back into fashion.

    Amtrak was and is completely unnecessary.
     
  19. BikerDad

    BikerDad E-Mail Bounces

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  20. mcjaco

    mcjaco TrainBoard Member

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    People go on cruises to visit the intermediate stops. People fly to get to the destination of their choice, not everything in between. That argument makes no sense.

    And as a business traveler, I'd rather sleep in my own bed, and get up early, know that my flight won't be delayed by freight traffic, and I'll be there when I need to be there.
     

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