Tag Archives: Amtrak

Streamliner Memories

Sigh. Just looking at the pics (or pix, if you prefer) brings back memories of our two thousand mile Amtrak excursion earlier this year. We only got a few canyons (in Colorado and New Mexico) and no mountains at all in Texas and Kansas) but we want to do it again next year. This time we’ll cut the distance to Colorado in half by going and coming back across West Texas.

Can’t stop thinking about the train

Bar and I agree, we can’t stop thinking about our train trip and want to do it again this year. In October, probably, when it’s cooled off a little in West Texas, which is the route we’ll take.

South to San Antonio and thence to El Paso. At that point, it’s a toss-up. Back to Trinidad or continue west to her birthplace of Phoenix? We’ll see.

Why US passenger trains suck

Primarily, according to James McCommons’ Waiting on a Train, because the highways aren’t clogged enough yet to make politicians realize they can’t build their way out of the traffic jams and put real money into trains the way they do highways and short-hop jet travel.

At least that’s my interpretation of what he reported in his good 2009 examination of the politics of America’s passenger trains—which mainly are run late and haphazardly by Amtrak. Although there are a few regional commuters like the Heartland Flyer from Fort Worth to Oklahoma City.

Neither a fan nor a foamer, I have taken the train when it pleased me to do so (or when it pleased my parents, as when my mother who had no car took infant me home on trains full of soldiers in 1945, and my father did when I was fifteen and he didn’t want to drive) and I have fundamentally enjoyed the experience.

Even when the coaches and sleepers were old and/or dirty and the vistas less than scenic. I would just like having the option to take the train. A train that’s pretty much on time and comfortable. It’s one thing the Europeans do right.

Government railroad’s latest crash no surprise

The only strange thing about Tuesday’s Amtrak crash is that it doesn’t happen more often. It happens often enough, as it is. But that’s what you get with government railroad. Not to mention the rest of us are paying for it.

“Given that the bulk of its rail traffic occurs in the well-heeled Northeast corridor, the company primarily serves as a means of transferring wealth from middle America to D.C., New York, and Boston. In its current form, Amtrak is less a for-profit passenger rail corporation and more a union jobs program (its ridiculous labor contracts are a major reason why the company is perpetually swimming in red ink).”

A union jobs program? Could that be why Tuesday’s 32-year-old engineer was recklessly driving 109 mph in a 50 mph zone? Possibly also texting. Police are after his phone records.

I’ve ridden Amtrak. It’s pathetic. Vending machine food. Smelly seats. Dirty windows. Flooded bathrooms. Just what you’d expect from “government work.”

UPDATE:  Some answers on the crash, though not why the engineer was so young and apparently neither experienced nor reliable enough to drive the speed limit.