Ed Driscoll

There's Always a Good Reason for Killing Amtrak, But...

The Insta-Professor links to a piece by self-described “Urbanophile” Aaron M. Renn who asks, “Is the Acela Killing America?”

I believe you can make an argument that the Acela has actually helped birth the stranglehold the finance industry has over federal fiscal and monetary policies, and thus has hurt America. . . . The geographic proximity of New York to Washington, with quick trips back and forth on the Acela, facilitates this. Clearly, you could get back and forth on the shuttle without it, but given the Acela’s popularity, it does seem to have some big benefits in shrinking the distance between New York and DC. I’d argue this has been unhealthy for America. If true high speed rail ever came to the NYC-DC corridor, who knows what might happen?

There’s always a good reason to kill Amtrak, but I’m not sure if doing so would ameliorate the particular brand of crony socialism that Renn describes above. Today’s NYC-DC Northeast Corridor, created by the brilliant engineering work of nearly century prior by the Pennsylvania Railroad, is the one region in America where passenger railroading could likely survive privatization intact. (Even in their death throes in the mid-1960s, it was the PRR that commissioned the Metroliner, whose design formed the basis of Amtrak’s Amfleet — their main fleet of passenger cars still in service today.)

It would be nice if all of the revenue from Wall Street’s trips to DC to pow-wow with President Goldman Sachs stayed in private hands, but they’d still be commuting back and forth no matter who owned the railroad that transported them. But hey, any issue of defunding Amtrak is mute while the Senate and White House are in the hands of the left. Speaking of which, if you’re going to go over the fiscal cliff, one of Government Motors’s AEM-7 locomotives with railfan Joe Biden at the controls (or the lack thereof, in Joe’s case) and an Amfleet of passenger cars behind it should get the job done in appropriately destructive fashion, to borrow from this classic Iowahawk Photoshop.