Business: Ax for Amtrak

Ahead: rail reduction

When Congress formed Amtrak in 1971, the idea was that a national passenger rail service would make money. But the federally supported rail system has been a steady loser and a growing drain on the public purse. The Government subsidy in 1978 reached $578 million, or about $2 in taxpayers' funds for every $1 taken in fares. Last week the Senate Commerce Committee began hearings to decide just what to do about it.

With Amtrak's annual deficit expected to climb to $1 billion or more by 1985, the austerity-minded lawmakers are in no mood to shout down a new Administration...