Sunday, September 27, 2009

Travel Restrictions

The most paranoid among us see surface modes of transportation in the same light as air transport when it comes to security. Amtrak has slowly started to roll over for the Homeland Security people, and more and more "exercises" in security are being held on commuter routes - particularly in the East. It seems that we will eventually have to undergo airline-like security checks, at least on Amtrak, if our current terrorism paranoia continues. But is it paranoia? Or is it a necessary response to where our western civilization stands in the world?

Is it logical to need airline-like security measures on Amtrak? The need for air security is grounded, at least in part, on the enormous potential for destruction of property and taking of human life that an airliner in the skies over just about any populated area presents. The airliners themselves are destructive enough, but add chemical, biological, or radiological elements, and the potential is even higher. Good, we've established that this is probably not paranoia, but a real possiblity.

Now let's look at Amtrak. If you could take over a train, you couldn't drive it into any old building. You certainly could do a lot of damage with the train and kill a lot of people, but you probably won't find a building you can bring down. Locomotives don't carry the enormous amounts of combustible fuels that airliners do. In addition, the places where Amtrak routes enter the interior structural elements of massive buildings are few and far between. But they do exist. If you crashed an Amtrak train in there, would you bring down the building? From an engineering standpoint, probably not. As heavy as it is, the total momentum (product of mass times velocity) of an Amtrak train going the fastest it could go without derailing and still get into these places is far lower than the momentum of a flying airliner. (Perhaps a serendipitous side effect of foot-dragging on high speed rail.)

But what if we add biological, chemical, radiologic and/or explosive elements? Again, the potential for spread is greater, but in all cases more confined. The same argument about momentum applies to spread of these elements, and the only other factor for the "large building" scenario is that enough explosives could probably not be physically carried onto Amtrak to do this. Spread of heat and flame would be more retarded in the subterranean confines where most trains enter large buildings. Again, too, there would be destruction and loss of life on board the train.

Some would say that risk is too high to take, so the answer is an unqualified yes. We need airline-style security on Amtrak.

I disagree. Risk must be handled proportionately. For instance, the worse your credit rating, the more interest you pay proportionately for a loan. (Although the current administration may put a stop to this.) If you can stop a ten-pound cannonball with three inches of steel, you don't need three inches of steel to stop a one-pound shell. As Amtrak is proportionately more safe for the public at large, we should be able to be proportionately more free of the restrictions imposed by airline-style security.

That's my opinion.

©2009 C. A. Turek -

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Where's The Cash?

Too many advocates of new Passenger Rail projects appear to be hanging their hats on stimulus money alone. And, lo and behold, we are 6 months post stimulus and there are reports that over 80% of the cash remains unspent. At the same time, there is some indication that the economy could be - God Bless Us - in a turnaround.

So what happens to all those dependent on stimulus if we also get a turnaround in government attitude? Not so likely with Progressives at the helm you say? What happens to all those new rail projects that expect to get the money? It's possible that the economy will turn around by itself and the government won't need to print all that money.

Well, old bills work just as well as the one's hot off the presses. We can work a little harder to get the money in place, but the plans should still be made. Passenger Rail is a great public work and should never have been given the short shrift while highway and air got all the bucks.

Just don't hang you hat on getting any stimulus money.

©2009 - C. A. Turek -

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Railroads and The Economy

It's been awhile. I just noticed that my last post was on July 5, and here it is August 9. With the crappy economy, I have less time to write anything, and that includes blog posts. Having to work harder and take less time off to make ends meet (or to keep a job) has kept me away from the keyboard too long.

It got me thinking first about Passenger Rail and the economy. How does it change things?

Economic stimulus has been unleashed for Amtrak, for HSR, and for urban Passenger Rail in general. Is this good? I think so. Capitalizing rail transport in any form is a good idea. It's a job creator that won't go away, because the new rails and routes created won't go away. It's good for economic growth. People able to move from one place to another, economically and without damaging the enviroment, for business or pleasure, can only be good for the economy.

In the short term, with the economy slow, sluggish, or just in the crapper, Amtrak revenue and ridership in most lanes will be down. It's a good time to plan for the future. But people are saving money by using public transportation, and this includes light rail, commuter rail, and rail transit. That should be good in the short term, as heavily subsidized rail in the long term will be needing tax dollars, and more riders will make for more voters willing to open their wallets and purses.

Amtrak is in disarray and needs good leadership right now. I see signs that this is occurring with the Amtrak board, but don't hold your breath. With lots of money to spend, it is going to have to be spent right. The long lead time for new equipment is a bummer, but we have to resist spending it where it won't make a permanent good impression on the rail traveler. And Amtrak has a history of finding more ways to trip over its own rails than the average quasi-government agency. (The Postal Service is next in line.) Finally unfettered by Congress and administrations that had it chained to a post and flogged it every afternoon, Amtrak may just dance around for awhile like the Tin Woodman looking for oil before it finds its balance.

Those of you who have read this blog since the start know that I am a political conservative, but one who believes that there are certain things that government should subsidize. Passenger Rail is one of those things. Let's hope Passenger Rail can come out of this recession looking stronger and better than ever. With the right leadership at all levels, and cooperation from private enterprises that should recognize its importance to a vital economy, it will.

©2009 - C. A. Turek -

Sunday, July 05, 2009

What Did He Say?

I forget sometimes that words mean different things to different people. Take the last blog on the subject of automation. Note the comment and my return comment.

In my book, and I guess I'm getting too old, automation is anything where a mechanical or electronic system (or a combination of both) intervenes in a process that could be (or once was) done by human hand. We forget that there weren't always signals that detected an occupied block. Those signals that do were invented a century ago and were automation. Now a lot of people think that something is not automated unless it is run by a computer chip.

In the case of the DC Metro wreck, it may be interesting if the final determination is a failure in automation that had nothing to do with computers. But it just makes my point. As automation gets older, it needs maintenance to avoid failure. In most cases, automatic block signals or occupied block detection systems, were designed to fail safe. They did this in a way that assumed that a live engineer (motorman) was operating the train. The operator had certain options (not necessarily only two), in the event of a dark signal. Even those options were supposed to err on the side of safety.

Which brings the question: In the DC wreck, how was the software written to respond to an occupied block (I'm guessing binary zero) or an unoccupied block (binary one), or to the equivalent of a dark signal (maybe neither but probably should also be a zero)? Or did the computer itself have to take the equivalent of a visual position and translate it to digital? Or what?

I'm speculating, because I know nothing about the design of this system - absolutely nothing, binary zero. I do know this: In designing any system of automation, it is better to design the overall system from scratch than to try to wed it to something older, slower, or just not in step with current trends. My point again?

If we are going to spend money to design automated train control systems, especially in the case of dedicated HSR, but also for light rail and transit, we need to go whole hog, or future designers and engineers will be trying to do patches and upgrades that just won't be as safe.

©2009 - C. A. Turek -

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Automated Railroading

The terrible wreck on the DC Metro last week got me thinking about automated railroading in general.

Let me first say that I have ridden the Metro and I have always been very impressed by it. I have never felt any fear at all that the automated systems were unreliable or would result in such a wreck.

Nonetheless, as we move toward further reliance on automatic train stop and other systems for Passenger Rail, I wonder what will happen when the money runs out. Granted, there is more focus on the lack of reinforced car ends and anticlimber engineering for the cars than there is on the automated system that would have had to fail in order for the DC wreck to happen. These cars didn't have the engineering due to lack of cash. And it remains to be seen whether the system failure was also because of deferred spending.

What happens to our automated systems when the money runs out? It will run out, you know. Someday, the pendulum will swing back in the other direction and nobody will want government to subsidize rail again. The question becomes: Do we spend enough now to design fail-safe systems that will be able to age gracefully? And do we spend enough time to retain the necessary skills among our railroaders so that, when and if the systems fail, we can still run trains the old way?

It's interesting to think of what Passenger Rail in the United States will be like in 20 or 30 years. Hope I'm around to see it, whatever it is like.

©2009 - C. A. Turek -

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Chicago to Iowa City - I'd Ride It

If I still lived in the Chicago area.

Getting out to Iowa City used to be one of my favorites. It's a beautiful city with a thriving university campus and sites of historical interest. I used to do it for an overnight or two. Out - overnight - and back.

That's probably how Amtrak service would go. But with a five-hour schedule (one way) it would be possible to spend a 15-hour day and five of those could be for business or shopping in one city or the other.

I'm speaking from the big-city perspective, however. The train would be of even more benefit for Iowans, as they would pick up the brunt of the subsidy, but could look forward to visiting downtown Chicago more often with less headache than driving. If the train is scheduled correctly.

I fear that with a lot of these new proposed startup Amtrak routes, the freight railroads will prevail and the schedules will be adjusted (or crimped by bad or felonious dispatching) into what the host rail wants or needs to get its freight over the road. There will be less incentive as freight traffic (unsubsidized as of today, but bailouts happen) takes it in the shorts from the lousy economy. But if both the economy and the new Amtrak routes come on line at the same time, you know absolutely which will bite the bullet. And it won't be the new route.

But making an overnight isn't so bad in Iowa City or in Chicago - though more expensive in the latter. I'd ride it anyway.

©2009 - C. A. Turek -

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Good Ideas and Bad Ones

The Good:  Amtrak is considering the restoration of the Pioneer from Denver to the pacific northwest (see article), and the idea of adding more of the Front Range cities that have some population density is a Good Idea.  Amtrak routes need population centers at the ends of routes in order to assure proper utilization of resources throughout the entire route.  But it would be damn silly not to add smaller population centers where possible.  It’s the no-density towns and marginal cities that need not be served by terminal routes.

The Bad:  Congressman Harry of NM wants the Rail Runner, already suffering from marginal density in its Belen terminal, to go to El Paso.  (See article.)  The reasoning is, and get this, the rest of New Mexico wants commuter options, too.  This shows that Mr. Teague has no concept of how to use rail resources and recover revenue.  Yes, like my example under “The Good,” El Paso would be a high-density city population, also with potential Mexican passengers (and concomitant border crossing problems like Amtrak’s international trains), but running a train because the other 2/3 of New Mexico has one isn’t a good reason.  And the northern end of the route is a marginal terminal (Santa Fe), that even the old namesake railroad didn’t go to. 

The Ugly:  Not today.

©2009 – C. A. Turek –

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Green Passenger Rail

With Earth Day/Week just past, I've been thinking about how we might make Passenger Rail more radically green than freight rail already is. Yes, Veronica, the energy saving by moving a ton of freight over rail as opposed to over the road is much, much greater than that saved by moving a ton of passengers by rail as opposed to over the road, even in buses. That's because the amenities associated with long distance passenger rail (and to some extent even commuter rail) often weigh more than the passengers transported. So I've been thinking, what can we do about that?

The energy/fuel advantages of the concept of gensets appears to be widely accepted. Perhaps something similar to that can be incorporated into the next generation of passenger equipment. Was a time when some commuter trains in the Chicago Area carried their own generator cars on some railroads. They didn't have or need the head end power. And the head end power concept in which the prime mover is always running hard enough to light/heat/cool the passengers may be passe.

Would a genset aboard each car be the answer. Perhaps a hybrid technology involving batteries (like heavyweight and early lightweight passenger cars of old) and maybe even solar technologies (there's a lot of roof area on the passenger cars) would be ideal. Has anyone looked into this?

I would think that the fuel saving for a power-on-demand genset over a 220-volt system for the whole train (a little like a small town power coop) would be great. And we could look into powering all of the gensets with biodiesel or with other green fuels like used cooking oil. Maybe we could build something that would pipe the used oil from a dining car right into the gensets.

Also, I still like the idea of making all future new passenger routes, especially HSR and new dedicated rights-of-way, electrified. This again is power on demand. You never have a diesel idling in a station burning up fuel and money.

With all the dollars that will now flow to Passenger Rail, I sure hope we get it right and get it green.

© 2009 - C. A. Turek -

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Too Little, Too Late - Hope Not

A frightening theme runs through much of the current rail-oriented media. (That would be rail mags, news articles, and editorial comment.) It's frightening if you are looking forward to the rebirth of Passenger Rail. Summed up in six words: We may have waited too long.

Even with the public and even the private sector interested in funding new and expanding rail projects, here are the problems from bottom to top.

1. The rebirth of rail hasn't discouraged the NIMBYs and the environmentalists. This will mean that acquisition of land (right of way) for any rail project will be more costly and take longer than ever before in United States history. In fact, I recently read an editorial reply where the environmentalist writer, in arguing against a new line, suggested that light rail is no more fuel efficient than the private auto. As the global warming people like to say: The facts are in and the science is settled. Both arguments are wrong, but that won't stop this guy. I would rather live next to a busy railroad than to a freeway or airport, but perhaps that's just me.
2. For reasons of safety regulations, general risk, materials, labor, and advancing technology, the tracks that go on those rights of way are more costly than ever before. Many miles of old track will have to be replaced, many miles have already been torn out, and freight rail is scrambling in some parts just to get a second main back where there once were three or four main line tracks. Demand will drive up cost, or cause shortages in materials.
3. Speaking of materials, the domestic steel industry is in shambles. Yes it still exists, but nowhere is there the capacity to turn out the steel needed for a major expansion. Not just rails are needed, but steel for bridges, retaining walls, scaffolding, cranes, earthmovers, re-bar, and etc. on and on. We are already buying enough from our overseas suppliers.
4. We have two North American locomotive builders but no passenger car builders. Some, like Siemens and Bombardier (both not domestic companies) can and have come on line in short order to assemble cars. With freight car orders down, now would be the time to shift some of those manufacturers to the passenger cars of our future.
5. Signal systems, which even in their basic state increase line capacity and reduce risk and thereby cost, are also in a shambles. Amtrak alone operates on whatever signal and communications systems the host railroad has in place. Once relatively cheap electro- pneumatic or mechanical devices have become high-tech GPS-based systems with increasing incremental costs as well. Letting the old systems go to pot in many areas has not given us a step up in getting to the high-tech.
6. Reservations systems are operating on decades old software that has been modified and updated but is still based on concepts that came to us with the birth of the personal computer. They will continue to get integrated into the newer technology of cell phones and hand-held devices, but they will still be the old systems. New would be better, but is it too late to revamp the whole thing?
7. With the degradation of our Passenger Rail system has come the degradation of society in general. The acceptable has become the unacceptable and some people just won't know how to ride the modern equivalent of a Pullman sleeper and respect the peace and privacy of other passengers. And the threat of litigation and stepping on somebody's civil rights keeps rail employees from putting a stop to some of the worst abuses. With our airline-driven are-we-there-yet mentality, we just might not be ready, as a society, for the rebirth of Passenger Rail.

Does anyone disagree?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Good News - Can Amtrak Take It?

AMTRAK to spend $47.5 million in stimulus funds on Chicago projects and CSX willing to help spur high-speed rail on Empire Corridor, Schumer says are just two of the articles of "good news" about Passenger Rail. The questions I have is this: Can Amtrak take all this good news?

For one thing, is Amtrak going to spend every bit of that stimulus money while looking over its shoulder and wondering when it will be taken away? I hope not.

In my humble opinion, the best way to spend the stimulus money, whatever it can get either through direct subsidy or through partnership with the states, is to not listen to Congress or to politicians in general. Argument: It is widely known that the Amtrak Board and much of Amtrak financial management is burned out with trying to keep the whole shebang running on a showstring. It is also widely known that Amtrak employees, from operating personnel on down, are generally more enthusiastic about what Amtrak can and should do. So ask the employees.

There have to be thousands of cheap problem fixes out there; fixes that when all done at the same time will make drastic improvements in service and on-time performance. Some of the corridor fixes highlighted in this month's Trains Magazine are a good example of this. Other things would be station repairs, security upgrades, quick fix amenities like new bedding and pillows in sleepers, and appearance upgrades (paint, soap and water). And I bet you wouldn't even spend half of the money on these.

Dear Amtrak: While you are thinking about making the big plans, solve all the small problems that you can solve right NOW. Thank you.

©2009 - C. A. Turek -

Monday, March 23, 2009

Worthy Effort

Please consider this link as direction to a worthy effort to save an historic piece of passenger railroading.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

R U Stimulated Yet?

Don't get me wrong. I love the fact that Amtrak and other Passenger Rail projects are getting stimulus money. I also love the fact that the prospect of following that money has gotten state and local governments and their politicians to pay attention. (I doubt they would pay so much attention if it didn't involve gobs of cash.)

Here in the great state of confusion we call New Mexico, our Passenger Rail project is completed for the time being. (See Rail Runner Express.) Any stimulus money that goes to transportation here is likely only to assist in the perpetuation of that franchise rather than starting anything new. Follow my link (in the header) to Passenger Rail news, however, and you will find news on any of a hundred new projects.

But stimulus money, by law, must be spent on - I hate this term - "shovel ready" projects. I'll leave it to you to decide whether that means ready to start a foundation or ready to bury the dead. But few rail projects are going to be shovel ready. Nor will few meet the test of job creation that is attached to the transportation funds. The money being thrown at Amtrak appears to be an exception, and I hope the masters of make-do at Amtrak catch all of it and use it wisely.

I also hope that Amtrak can find a domestic rail car builder before they are all bankrupt, but that's another story.

My point is that much more of the stimulus money is going to wind up in building or repairing more and better roads, some airport runways or terminals, airway infrastructure, and - gasp - bailing out the auto industry, than will ever be put into Passenger Rail. As we sell out more of our grandkids' future, perhaps the trend towards thoughtful, intermodally integrated and environmentally sound transportation policy will change that. Who's going to pay for it? I don't know.

So just sit back and get ready to watch those passengers shovel.

© 2009 - C. A. Turek -

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Three Weeks is Too Much Without a Post

My apologies to those of you who navigate to this blog regularly. The number is growing and I appreciate the traffic. But I haven't been in the mood to blog lately.

There are a number of reasons, but the biggest one is just spending too much time on other things. Among these things, the one that looms largest is working to make a living and keep the job that has become just as precarious as others in these hard times. Maybe a little mental depression goes along with that. Another thing I've been up to is spending a little more time working the Internet to market a completed manuscript.

If you think it's about Passenger Rail, you would be wrong. It is a historical novel about another form of rail tranportation. Although I've kept links to my other interests out of this blog so far, I'm breaking with that policy. You can read a little about my novel at, where you will find that its period is the start of the Great Depression and much of it is set in the tunnel system under the streets of Chicago and in and around the railroad infrastructure of that period.

A third reason for not blogging Passenger Rail is the speed at which things are moving. Passenger Rail as a transportation mode has caught on, and even the collective heads of our federal politicians have come out of their butts long enough to realize this. I will write more on what's real and what's not in the speed of this transition as soon as possible. But bottom line: I see so much good planning and prospective new rail projects out there that it's hard to decide on which one to focus my attention.

Write me at my regular email address ( ) if you check out A Tunnel Too Far and like what you see. I would prefer this to a comment on this blog, but I think I have opened the door to that, haven't I?

©2009 - C. A. Turek -

Sunday, February 22, 2009

How Permanent Is Permanent?

As a nation of freedom-loving fools currently hellbent on swinging towards the socialist side of the pendulum, we need to be very careful not to squander the stimulus money coming to Passenger Rail. We all have ideas and pet projects, but how many of them will result in permanent jobs? And how permanent is permanent?

How many jobs are still around that were created by FDR's depression-era programs? I can safely tell you that most of the railroad jobs created or kept by those programs have long ago gone away and will not come back. Why? We don't want them to. Therefore, we want to put Passenger Rail's stimulus money into things that will create future jobs.

Bad example: Refurbishing damaged or aging Amtrak cars will create short-term jobs. Putting more Amtrak cars on the rails on current routes will create jobs that have to be funded from year to year. There will have to be a committed source of future funding to make these jobs even semi-permanent.

Good example: Building new HSR routes will create completely new kinds of railroads that will carry on into the future and may yield future jobs we cannot dream of today! Yes, this will probably also need some stable source of future funding, but we won't be funding old ideas.

Is it the only way to go then: To fund only new ideas? Not by a long shot. We simply need to avoid that law of unintended consequences that political types are so fond of falling into. We have to think things through, thoroughly, and with precision.

Hope we do; because this kind of money on the loose might be Passenger Rail's best opportunity long into the future.

© 2009 C. A. Turek -

Sunday, February 08, 2009

More Wishes and Dreams

City Triplets. No, I am not advocating multiple births by urban dwellers. I am talking about groups of cities that would be an excellent starting point for new Passenger Rail routing. Just about every state has a set of city triplets, and I am sure my readers will know of more. Some triplets don't fit into just one state, they are bi-state or tri-state triplets. Let me give two examples and then a list.

My home state of New Mexico now has the beginnings of a triplet routing. We have a true intercity commuter between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The south end of the line doesn't count. Belen isn't big enough to fit my idea. But Santa Fe - Albuquerque - Las Cruces does. And there is already talk.

Another example, from my former state, would be Chicago - Springfield - St. Louis, which does exist to some extent. Chicago - Peoria - Moline would be another. My point in getting together these triplet is: If we start here, it is a good place to then connect the dots by connecting the triplets. And it gives each state a chance to decide what routes they want and then go for the gold in getting their triplet into the new national network.

Others (mostly where there is no or limited Passenger Rail now):
Boise - Pocatello - Idaho Falls
Tucson - Phoenix - Flagstaff
Pueblo - Colorado Springs - Denver
Grand Island - Lincoln - Omaha
Topeka - Wichita - Oklahoma City
Amarillo - Lubbock - San Angelo
New Orleans - Baton Rouge - Shreveport
Memphis - Nashville - Knoxville
Evansville - Indianapolis - South Bend

I could go on. There's no trick other than finding a triplet that has some population in between towns that would ride the train and stir up some economic activity by doing so. With few exceptions in the one's I've named, this would also take passenger cars off the Interstates.

©2009 C. A. Turek -

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Wish List 2

Please, Mr. Obama, while you are printing more money, please fund the following:

1. All-rail passenger service from Chicago to Green Bay.
2. More than one train each day out of Chicago to each and every route end, including the long ones.
3. Buy up enough nearby real estate to increase the capacity of Chicago stations for Amtrak. As fantasies go, this is a big one. It would require one or all of a) increasing the number of available tracks in Union Station; b) spreading out Amtrak among the several stations (only Union Pacific has northbound tracks), which would also require; c) improved light rail (non-CTA) between Randolph, LaSalle, Union Pacific (all Metra) and Union (maybe a light rail circulator on dedicated elevated right of way?).
4. While we're fantasizing feeders, new ones from O'Hare and Midway right to Amtrak! Now there's a transportation concept. As it is right now, you can't do this via rail alone.

More next time

© 2009 - C. A. Turek -

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Wish List 1

Don't get me wrong. I am dead against the way our politicians are hustling every pet project they can think of in order to get them in front of Mr. Obama for a piece of the "economic stimulus" pie.

But I am attracted by the fantasy of having some favorate Passenger Rail-related projects funded, so I am going to start on my wish list.

Dear Mr. Obama:
Please print money for the following projects to stimulate the economy.
1. Passenger Rail service along the front-range corridor from Cheyenne, Wyoming, to El Paso, Texas.
2. At least two daily trains each way on this corridor.
3. Passenger Rail service that would get me from Albuquerque to Phoenix in under 24 hours, without going part way by bus.
4. A short intra-state local running Las Cruces to Las Vegas, NM.
5. Passenger Rail from Albuquerque to Las Vegas, Nevada.

Next time: Wish lists for other areas.

©2009 - C. A. Turek -

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Winter and Amtrak

Now that the early-winter holidays are past, it is worth noting that Winter has been upon much of the country with a vengeance since well before the holidays came and went. And what has Amtrak been able to do about it? Not much.

I have opined on this blog in past winters that Amtrak should focus more on keeping its equipment winter-operable and on getting new equipment that is more weatherproof. Nonetheless, the norm seems to be to shrug when weather sidelines equipment or makes it inoperable enroute, and to make the poor passenger endure the hell that results.

Several winters ago, I experienced what happens to Superliner sleepers when snow and ice get up between the cars and into the high-voltage house power connections. The resulting explosion and showers of sparks are certainly memorable, but sitting for hours on the track while crews use every imaginable spit-and-baling-wire fix to try to get things working again, all the while freezing in a train with no heat or light, is not the makings of a pleasant trip. There should have been spare parts on board. And it wouldn't hurt to have at least one crewmember who is also trained as a car mechanic, at least on paper.

But that winter has been repeated many times this year, according to reports, in lower Michigan and the Northeast. There are horror stories of a four-hour trip taking 16 hours with no available toilet facilities and no adequate communication from Amtrak. The intertia that this represents in Amtrak's approach to such things is staggering.

We, the sheep . . . er, taxpayer . . . shouldn't stand for this kind of management in Our Passenger Rail System! I'm imagining that all Amtrak trains that have a longer than 2-hour run should have a passenger representative appointed by random draw of ticket stubs to be empowered to summarily fire any employee of Amtrak that lets this kind of thing happen. Nice fantasy, but it won't happen. Too many bureaucrats (with really heavy ass inertia) standing in the way.

Amtrak needs to get it's crap together or be modified out of existence into some new form, with a new charter and a new commitment to passenger service. It could happen. Change should be forthcoming. Let's hope it's real.

©2009 - C. A. Turek -