That we have a government owned – government owned – passenger rail line in this country really is an affront to what this country is supposed to stand for. Either it should be private, or it should not be. I mean if it’s not profitable why do we have it? Is it just that some members of Congress have a thing for trains and socialism? Well, yes, that is the case. But the Amtrak employees aren’t very keen on privatization either.
And you know who also likes Amtrak and its subsidized rates? Fairly well off people in the Northeast. They like the cheap – subsidized fares and the convenience of the train. And it really can be convenient provided one’s train is close to on time.
I’ll admit it. I like Amtrak because it drops me off right at Union Station in DC when I go. But it would probably be much better if it was privatized. (And I do think it could be privatized as I discuss in this piece.) Sure rates might go up but I’d trade it for better service. Which as many an Amtrak rider can attest, is somewhat lacking.
But alas Amtrak has a new head who has no interest in privatization. Even worse he was once an opponent of crony capitalism. Now he completely embraces it. It’s the old story of the state and of our crony system.
(From One Mile at a Time)
During his nine years at Delta, he became famous for the ferocity with which he battled subsidies he believed competitors enjoyed, from sources including the Export-Import Bank and a trio of Middle Eastern governments that U.S. airlines accuse of giving unfair aid to their carriers. Under Anderson, Delta led an effort to cut off federal support for the Ex-Im Bank, which was a key element in many sales of Boeing jets abroad.
Amtrak, meanwhile, provides an “essential service” for many Americans, Anderson said, and enjoys broad congressional support. Earlier this month, the House rejected a proposal by Rep. Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican, to eliminate federal funding for Amtrak; a Senate committee has also set aside a budget request by the Trump administration to eliminate money for Amtrak’s long-distance routes.
Running a passenger rail company “is a lot more complicated than an airline,” Anderson said, because the railroad also owns its “air traffic control” system in the form of tracks, switches, and other equipment.