Is This Any Way To Run A Railroad?

It's Judgment Day for Amtrak: the ailing system needs to speed up--or be shut down for good

Judging by the gaggle of travelers pouring onto trains over the Thanksgiving holiday, you might think that Amtrak is finally enjoying a smooth ride. But you would be wrong. Three decades after Congress created this poor stepchild from the remnants of the freight railroads' money-losing passenger business, Amtrak is closer than ever to derailing.

The Amtrak Reform Council, a federal oversight board, last month formally concluded what most observers have known for years: the nation's floundering passenger-train operator has no chance of becoming self-sufficient by the end of 2002, as Congress mandated five years ago. Now that it's clear Amtrak...

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