Way off track

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It can "reduce gridlock, help combat global warming and even reduce our reliance on foreign oil."

Sounds good. We're in favor of it.

It's going to cost $11.4 billion and we are scarcely going to use it.

What?

Our spendthrift Senate is at it again. The quote above was used by co-sponsor Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., to justify the positive vote on the Amtrak subsidy bill last week. The bill now goes to the House.

Amtrak, the railway that in 1970 was going to revive passenger train travel, has never made any money. Despite carrying a record 26 million passengers last year, it still lost more than $1 billion.

So why does Congress keep beating this dead iron horse? They use it to go to New York for the weekend. The Northeast corridor, primarily the route between Washington and New York, is the only Amtrak route that makes money. Other routes lose millions.

If Amtrak was a private business, it would deserve to go bankrupt. What needs to be developed is a more rational approach to nationwide passenger rail -- one that actually serves the public -- instead of keeping Amtrak on congressional life support.


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