Trains and Gasoline   May 11th, 2005

by Noel T. Braymer, RailPAC President — When Amtrak was created in 1971 it was supposed to be a two year “experiment.” So uncertain was Amtrak’s future that one of the few capital expenditures at that time was for some new freight locomotives modified for passenger service. They could be sold easily to the railroads should the company be liquidated. The plan was that Amtrak would automatically go out of business if it wasn’t “profitable” in two years. Many people felt Amtrak was set up to fail, so responsibility for rail passenger service could be lifted from both the government and the railroads.

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by Noel T. Braymer, RailPAC President — “We know we have a product here that will absolutely knock the socks off the competition,” said Amtrak President George Warrington. “Only Amtrak’s Acela will provide a very special journey for customers who will travel downtown to downtown. Fares will be about 20% higher than the current Metroliners but 25% less than air. Amtrak is hoping Acela will boost its market share in the NEC from 12% to 15% and will lead to way toward profitability by 2002.” “Acela’s entry into the Northeast creates the first of many high-speed corridors Amtrak has staked out nationwide,” said Chairman of Amtrak’s Board of Directors, Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson. “We are committed to developing high-speed corridors across America that connect communities, create jobs, boost local and regional economies, and make rail a fast, high-quality way for Americans to travel.” Vice-Chairman, former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis explained that “the successful launch of high-speed rail later this year will enable Amtrak to achieve its business goal of contributing $180m in revenue growth, once in full service … Acela is on track to meeting this commitment, and also as serving as a model for the rest of the nation.”

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