Railyard Rumbles

Battles begin over the future of Conrail and Amtrak

The U.S. Government bought itself a lot of headaches during the 1970s when it created Conrail, the freight rail system in the East, and Amtrak, the national passenger railroad. At the time, the entire rail business was chugging toward the scrap pile. More than a decade of refurbishing and streamlining, however, has given railroading a shiny new look. Amtrak and Conrail, stoked by $18 billion in subsidies, have rebuilt their equipment and images.

Now the U.S. faces what may be an even tougher task than running a railroad: getting out of the business. In an effort to uncouple itself from Conrail...

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