Saturday, May 10, 2008

Today is national train day

Westbound California Zephyr
Originally uploaded by jmdspk
For those of you who did not know it, today is national train day, a day to celebrate our national rail passenger system. Of course those of use here in Utah were we have only one train per day that comes through in both directions at night, there is not much to celebrate and since Utah does not help Amtrak fund a state operation we seemed to get ignored like many other places.

In fact, Amtrak passed its 37th birthday on May 1st; I would scarcely call it a celebration since there is little to celebrate. I guess we can celebrate that we do have some semblance of a rail passenger network in place sense the creation of Amtrak was designed to shut down rail passenger service, not make it survive.

Personally, I support long distance rail passenger service. In the past year I have taken a couple of trips over to Denver on the California Zephyr, plus my wife and I have traveled up to Portland, Seattle and Spokane on the Coast Starlight, Cascade Service, and the Empire Builder respectively.

However, while Amtrak seemed to make progress in its first 10 years especially redoing the run down fleet in found itself with, there has been little progress when it comes to rail passenger service the Carter Administration cut many trains out. Today, the system is in worse shape for the most part than when Amtrak first started on May 1st, 1971.

In fact the only success stories you find is were the states have funded improvements having to bring Amtrak along kicking and screaming.

Rail Passenger service can be a success in spite of Amtrak not because if it. Here is some articles that may be of interest including one I wrote a few years ago comparing Amtrak to K-Mart.

Does Amtrak Have Too Much in Common with K-Mart?

America wants more Rail Passenger Service

Amtrak needs leadership, not more managers

The CZ: Amtrak’s forgotten train

The Long Distance Trains need more local control

Matrix Theory is not the name of a movie

What Do We Need From Amtrak?

Strategic Points for a Privatized National Rail Passenger System

Three Radical Ideas Concerning Amtrak

Concepts Of The Successful Long Distance Train Of The Future

Overview, Concepts Of The Successful Long Distance Train Of The Future

Corridor and Long Distance Myths and Realities

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