Originally created 10/06/01

Amtrak: How serious?

CSX's overwrought security concerns have blown up Amtrak's plan to run a demonstration passenger train through Augusta next month. The notion that Amtrak operating on CSX-owned tracks poses some kind of danger to the public is ludicrous.

Surely terrorists have more important fish to fry than humbling Mayor Bob Young's showcase demonstration project, which itself had elements of ridiculousness.

Though the mayor gets an "A" for effort in trying to bring rail service here, the demonstration he got Amtrak to sign on to showed he still has much track to lay before it happens.

Basically, it appeared Amtrak officials, in agreeing to the demonstration run, were just being courteous to the city Young represents because of the enthusiasm with which he courted them.

But face it. An exhibition train trip through the city, with the mayor and a few dignataries on it, would be more of a curiosity than anything else. It certainly wouldn't commit Amtrak to including Augusta on its itinerary.

We do believe, however, that Amtrak is serious about putting in a connector bus between Augusta and Columbia. But that deal has been in the works for months, raising the question why hasn't it been finalized yet?

Young says the bus would be a start toward establishing regular Amtrak passenger service. We hope he's right, but it's more likely that the bus will be as far as Amtrak will carry Augusta.

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