> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Excuses, excuses! My main point was
> _what business does the government have in being in the Rail Road
> business anyway? The trains ran perfectly well by
> themselves, and when the government took over they just got worse and
> worse. PAT]
Not correct. The trains did NOT run "perfectly well". Rather, the
railroads were losing a tremendous amount of money running them and
wanted to discontinue all passenger service. Just before Amtrak, most
remaining passenger train service was pretty bad. Remember the Penn
Central -- they operated the majority of the country's trains.
As mentioned, to save the trains Amtrak was set up as a govt agency.
The infrastructure -- tracks (NEC), stations, shops, locomotives, and
cars -- were old, poorly maintained, and terribly worn out. Amtrak is
not perfect, but it's better than what we had in the late 1960s. (The
once crack train, the 20th Century Limited, ran 12 hours late in its
last years, for example).
We often read about scandals involving toll road and airport
government authorities. Yet no one is questioning why the govt is
As to your other question of "who is in charge", as others also
pointed out, the CSX railroad (CSX doesn't stand for anything) is
responsible. It was their derailment, after all, and their railroad.
It certainly is frustrating to have people stranded so long. But in
isolated areas, you just can't have people abandon their luggage and
climb down to the tracks. That climb down to the lower roadbed in
itself would be dangerous and difficult for elderly people. Then, in
this cold weather, where are they supposed to go? I think we need
some more information about the particulars before drawing
P.S. I forgot to mention that the private capital the railroads used
was taxable, while the bonds used to finance roads and airports was
non-taxable and often guaranteed. This made financing costs for public
bodies much lower than the railroads, and gave them another advantage.
Further, the govt was very heavy-handed in railroad regulation.
Railroads were forced to run empty trains for years at great losses in
the name of "public service". Because of that, the railroads wanted
out of the psgr business even in the few places where a psgr train
might be profitable.
By the way, government regulation was partly to blame for the NYC
telephone service crisis of the 1970s. The government ordered NY
Telephone to hire unqualified people for craft positions and these
people couldn't do the job (per Oslin's book). Accordingly to Oslin,
adverse government regulation was largely to blame for Western Union's
failure, such as ordered WU to assume the problems of the Postal
Telegraph Company and give in to high union demands.