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Trump to Amtrak Long Distance Trains: Drop Dead

City of New Orleans at the Union Passenger Terminal by Robert Kaufmann, FEMA Photo Library, via Wikimedia Commons City of New Orleans at the Union Passenger Terminal by Robert Kaufmann, FEMA Photo Library, via Wikimedia Commons

President Trump’s preliminary budget cuts all funding for Amtrak long-distance trains. Although there’s a lot I don’t like about this budget, I have to say I understand Trump’s position. Amtrak’s long-distance trains are money-losers, and despite the standard denials from Amtrak supporters, they’re really “land cruises” for people who like riding trains or hate airplanes and buses. And subsidizing a handful of expensive trains for those folks isn’t a high national priority.

But before you leave scathing comments about my position, I also believe that, when the dust settles, Amtrak will still have all or most of its long-distance trains running. The only reason Amtrak got funded in the first place was the decision to run long-distance trains, once a day or less, through enough states to garner congressional support, and that political reality isn’t going to change any time soon.

Ed Perkins, editor

For more travel tips from Ed Perkins, see our companion site Ed on Travel

3 Comments on Trump to Amtrak Long Distance Trains: Drop Dead

  1. I come from a Railroad family and I must agree with the president. when I was 12 years old I traveled to Chicago on the Pennsy Broadway limited we went coach and it was magnificent. The food in a dinning car cooked fresh. The treatment was wonderful. The whole trip both ways was a memory ill relish for all my life. For my 50th birthday I decided to treat myself to a train ride on Amtrac to Chicago. I went first class.It was horrid.It took 22 hours the bed was a joke the tv didn’t work and the staff was nasty. the food consisted of a plastic tray with some inedible substance that I wouldn’t feed to a dog. I had to eat it in my room because there was no loundge,bar or dinning car which really bothered me as I like a social dinning experience.The price was twice what id have paid for a plane tic which would have gotten me there in less the 2 hours. I cashed in my tic in Chicago and flew back to NYC. Never again will I take a Train any long distance. The trains in this country have become a shame. Not funding them is a great idea even though I love trains Im even a member of the friends of the GG-1.

  2. I come from a railroad family.I love trains .any a kid I rode up in the cab of many a gg-1 pulling a clocker from e-port to Penn.My Uncle who was a retired motorman for the PRR was given a pass that would allow him free coach passage on almost every railroad in the USA. When I was 8 years old(1960) we took the Broadway limited from Penn nyc to Chicago.We rode coach but it was classy,clean and comfortable.The dinning car was like a well appointed restraunt,the food was cooked to order in the kitchen car,there was a lounge car with a bar,music and people having a great time. The staff was beyond friendly.It took 18 hours but it was so woth every min. Going around the horseshoe curve, the country flying by and the views were spectacular.In 1990 for my 50th birthday we decided to Fly to Chicago and take Amtrac’s Manhattan limited (they still used some names of classic trains) home.I had bragged how wonderful going by train would be and how much of the country you can see ect .we booked a first class sleeper for the trip.The room was tiny,the tv didn’t work the dinning car didn’t exist anymore,no lounge car and the food was given to us in plastic packages.It was inedible.We were told that the dinning car was not in service. The staff were nasty,unhelpful and embrassing. The route was the 3 rivers and the trip was at night so there was very little to see.I got out at Harrisburg to watch them swith the locos from diesel to electric fro the ride to NYC Penn.The sun just began to rise at Newark (what a view)Now the killer was this not only was it a terrible trip but that one way cost me more then it would have if I had flown first class both ways. So if this what long hall trains are going to be like then I agree with the President.I will always love trains its in my blood.I also had a massive lionel layout.I rode trains when ever I had a chance when I traveled to other parts of the world. Just out of curiosity and passion for rail roads. The main Rail Roads in this country are a shame. If I was afraid to fly(which im not) id take a bus. I wont get ripped off again.

  3. Someone needs to remember that long distance trains also travel short distances between cities and even remarkable sightseeing attractions. The problem with congress is they don’t use rail transportation themselves. East coast people love Acela trains and short shuttles from NY to Boston and NY to Wash. DC. On the west coast we are the most scenic but also most starved for equipment and frequency of service. Fix that and avoid such heavy use of airways. Finish the high speed rail at least LA to Sacramento asap. Give the contract to Germans or Japan. They know HOW to do it.

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