Why Only The Private Sector Can Save Amtrak

A progressive -- if cynical -- argument for privatizing Amtrak: only private interests can borrow the necessary capital to upgrade it, and have the clout necessary to lobby Congress to support the service adequately.

"One item that should be near the top of anyone's list [of ways to address climate change] is promoting intercity train travel. The reason is simple: train travel is far more energy efficient than plane or car travel. If we can get car drivers and airplane passengers into trains, we can have substantial cuts in emissions.

But instead of expanding and improving, our rail system is sinking further into a rut. Most regions of the country have no serious passenger train system, and even the Northeast corridor between Washington and Boston - the one area that actually does have reasonably good train service - is seeing the quality of its service deteriorate in recent years.

Amtrak, as a public corporation, cannot simply go out and borrow the tens of billions of dollars that would be needed to modernize its tracks. Such a move would have to be authorized by Congress. This is why Amtrak needs to be privatized."

Full Story: For the Sake of the Planet, Privatize Amtrak



Amtrak's woes...

The author of this article may not be aware that Amtrak does not "own" any of its track - Amtrak trains run on the rails of private railroads and is at the mercy of their track maintenance. Most freight lines are not of the quality and smoothness we would like for passenger rail. In addition, if a private frieght railroad decides to remove tracks, Amtrak has little recourse.

Most intercity passenger rail at least has some subsidy from goverment to keep it profitable. Even in countries like France and Germany. The idea that a private entity could raise more funds than the Federal Government seems ludicrous to me. Private passenger rail is often if not always a money loser - so privatizing Amtrak would kill it for sure.


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