Is Anybody There?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Saturday, May 08, 2010

National Train Day 2010

Today is the 3rd annual National Train Day. As a railfan, I am all for celebrating America's railroad heritage. However, the fact that these reeks a bit too much of being mainly an advertising promo for Amtrak leaves me with mixed feelings.
1 of those feelings is puzzlement. This is Amtrak. They haven't exactly shown this much creativity in self-promotion over most of its history. Amtrak started 3 years before Conrail. Both were government run, but Conrail had the right leadership & in 1987 it was sold to private investors. It was later jointly aquired by Norfolk Southern & CSX & split between them.
So, why didn't Amtrak follow the same path. Several reasons. IMHO 1 of the biggest is that Amtrak has often had poor management. But, I will also put some of the blame on Congress who let Conrail have (from what I see) a freer hand. The result has been damage to what could have been a great product.& I am not sure that the damage done can ever be overcome as things are now.
Another part of the problem has been the fact that Amtrak is almost totally dependant on the freight railroads for trackage rights. Another part is the size of the USA creates some unique problems.
The USA definitely needs nationwide passenger service as an alternative to air travel as well as automobiles. & I have given a very simple description of some complex problems that need to be overcome. But I have hope that they can.
& this is where I am pleasantly surprized that Amtrak has come up with something that could help to build a positive view of passenger trains, & railroading in general.
Railroads have had their ups & downs over the decades. There are a variety of reasons for the problems. But for now I have said enough about those problems.
Many people are unaware of the value of railroads. They need to realize is that railroads play a very important part in our modern economy as well as American history. They are 1 part of the transportation picture.
As I said, I am a railfan. I grew up 3 blocks from the Chicago Great Western RR roundhouse in Oelwein. Both my grandfathers & a great-grandfather worked for the CGW. & while I know we will probably never see things like they were in the golden years, I am just as sure that they will be arround for the forseeable future.
So for 1 day, lets put the problems aside & look at the good that railroads have done for America. Maybe, just maybe, if enough of the right people realize their value we will see the will & desire to deal with the problems to solve them.

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