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June 23, 2006

Amtrak funding

The Missouri Department of Transportation and Amtrak are exploring the possibility of expanding passenger rail service between St. Louis and Springfield. This is meant to relieve congestion on Interstate 44 because of the growing popularity of the Springfield/Branson area. It would also provide service to four other towns along the way (6/16, St. Louis Business Journal).

With the increased cost of gasoline and a greater awareness of energy conservation and efficiency, Amtrak expansion is a good idea.

But it appears that Republican U.S. Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri doesn’t share that vision. Recently he voted against the bill that increased the 2007 Amtrak budget from $900 million to $1.14 billion. (6/17, Star, A-11, “How They Voted”).

Without Graves’ vote, the bill passed. But Amtrak needs more money to avoid bankruptcy. If the House could have added funds equaling the “bridge to nowhere” in Alaska, $230 million, Amtrak could dodge bankruptcy next year.

Congressman Graves continues to promote oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. Expansion of Amtrak service in the U.S. would provide Americans an alternative to driving. But it would appear that Graves doesn’t understand the concept of energy conservation and efficiency.

Charles L. Beucher Jr.
Kansas City



Posted this on asnother thread but maybe you didn't see it. As there doesn't seem to be much activity on this one, thought I'd repost it.
As we are way off thread anyhow, perhaps you can help me out with this. I have a letter from "Soldier's Angles" asking for a donation to provide "cooling scarves' for the troops in Iraq. Do you or your son know anything about this? Is it worthwhile and to be trusted?

Posted by: Engineer | Jun 22, 2006 7:27:28 PM"

Mark Robertson

The interstate highway system, the advancement of the automobile, and the airline industry, all lead to the decline of the passenger train. But a little talked about factor in the decline of passenger trains is the oppressive regulation and other legislative measures passed in the 40s and 50s, as well as corruption on many fronts, that stifled the industry.
They also were forced to pay crushing taxes. Railroads were often told what rates to charge and what services to provide and what rail companies they could buy or sell.
And most of the transportation money was going to the new highway system.
Passenger trains may or may not be able to make it today with a true free market system. But greatly diminishing the free market for the industry was the major factor in the decline.(Info from "Train Wreck" The Freeman, Ideas on Liberty, 8-99)
Amtrak is just another failed nationalized business. It will continue to lose millions if not billions unless some privitization is introduced. Yes I realize that Eurrail seems to be successful, but I would guess that it is a huge drain on their stagnant economies. And I like trains. Thankyou.

Mark Robertson

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