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Reply to "Amtrak's Plans to Extend Rail Service Across the Country"

Outside of the northeast and a few short corridors, Amtrak will never serve as any more than a land cruise. If you want to retain riders, you will have to provide services akin to what you find on a cruise ship, and that would by necessity cause fares to skyrocket.

It's pipe-dreaming to think that long distance trains will ever be the choice of business travelers again. They are an anachronism to most members of the general public. I know that is hard to swallow, but it is a fact nonetheless.

That's one way of looking at it, but from a different vantage point than a lot of people in this country have.

For those ensconced in larger cities, with their own automobiles, and the ability and desire to drive long distances, and living near airports with convenient passenger schedules, and who can afford to fly - yes, for many of these people, train travel for any reason other than leisure may not make sense, other than for those living adjacent to major corridors. But looking more closely at the data, and studies that have been done, and listening to the consensus of residents of smaller cities along Amtrak routes, and a different point of view and a different reality shows up. For many people in small towns and cities, and their surrounding areas, Amtrak is their only choice for travel beyond their immediate area. This is one of the factors driving the consideration for expansion.

Many people don't own their own car, or can't afford to keep it insured and serviced or have the ability to drive long distances, because of health reasons or cost or any number of things. These small towns and cities may be hundreds of miles away from airports with regularly scheduled airline service. For these people, Amtrak service is important, and they don't want it taken away. It is a public service of great importance to them, and it is a necessity for many of them. It is their link to the outside world. Big city dwellers don't get it, and they don't think about it, either.

This has been shown in many studies. I recall a number of years ago when consideration was being given to discontinuing the Texas Eagle, which runs from Chicago to St. Louis to Little Rock to Dallas and Ft. Worth and on to San Antonio (linking with the Sunset Limited). There was a tremendous outcry from the public in smaller cities and towns along the route, citing the same arguments and concerns mentioned above. There were organized campaigns to fight the discontinuance, letter writing and telephone calls, etc. From this, congressional representatives got involved, and after the uproar, plans to shelf the Texas Eagle were scrapped.

These Amtrak patrons aren't looking for a cruise ship experience. They just want a reasonably confortable method of transportation they can access.

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