After 48 years of providing long-distance passenger train services, is Amtrak preparing to scuttle these operations and dismantle its National Network? That nightmare prospect, long desired for decades by anti-passenger-rail politicians, now seems a real and perhaps imminent possibility.
Having spent much of my productive life at the state and federal levels observing, studying, regulating and then leading a rail management team, I am appalled with what increasingly appears a unilateral violation of the public trust by Amtrak’s current leadership to dismantle our interconnected, intercity rail passenger network, beginning with hollowing out of its long-distance passenger train service.
Amtrak’s board of directors has extended the contract of President and CEO Joe Boardman “for his achievements in improving operational and financial performance, and to provide continuity of leadership critical to the ongoing implementation of the company’s strategic plan.”
Legendary Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver etched his illustrious baseball career and winning record with the three-run homer. Were Amtrak a Major League Baseball team, its success would be measured, instead, by infield hits. But Amtrak may have hit one long ball this week when new House Rail Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) conceded that Amtrak passenger service on the Northeast Corridor and on state-supported corridors is profitable and efficient.
A triad of U.S. HSR interests makes its move, upsetting some preconceived conventional wisdom involving the nation’s passenger rail outlook.