Thursday, October 20, 2011

Amtrak turns 40: Updated!

Happy Birthday to a system that keeps on running, despite the dunces in Washington D.C.

The following editorial appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Thursday, September 22nd:

For 40 years Amtrak, the country's national passenger rail service, has chugged along like "The Little Engine That Could" - overcoming constant economic obstacles and a continuing barrage of political maneuvering. It seems no matter the progress it makes in extending service and adding riders, there is always a herd of politicians in Washington who try to derail it at budget time.

This year is no different.

A proposal in the U.S. House would cut Amtrak's operations appropriations by 60 percent, from $563 million each of the last two years to $227 million in 2012. Its capital budget would be reduced by $25 million to $899 million, a significant blow considering that the corporation is already under funded for maintenance and infrastructure.

On September 28th, Amtrak’s 30 millionth passenger, Rochelle Lathon of St. Louis, was presented with an oversized Amtrak ticket and two 30-day rail passes.

Ms. Lathon rode the Texas Eagle from Alton to Springfield, Illinois on September 28th, the day the 30 million passenger mark was reached.

Ms. Lathon is a mother of five, a community college student and an Amtrak Guest Rewards member who travels frequently to Springfield and Chicago on the Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle trains.

In celebration of its 40th anniversary, Amtrak is offering exclusive HO scale model trains in "Heritage" paint schemes. This first-time offering includes 15 limited-run models only available aboard the Amtrak Exhibit Train or online at the Amtrak Store.

The collection includes four powered locomotives and 11 passenger cars, making it possible to create a miniature representation of the Amtrak Exhibit Train and any eastern long-distance Amtrak train in the current Phase IVb paint scheme.

The model trains are now available for order and will start shipping in November, in time for holiday gift giving.

Amtrak is offering other collectible items to celebrate the 40th Anniversary including a commemorative book and documentary DVD.

  • Amtrak: An American Story, is a 144-page book that chronicles the history of the railroad with archival photographs, a historical timeline and personal narratives for each decade.
  • Amtrak: The First 40 Years, the documentary DVD, provides an exclusive look inside America’s Railroad, with hard-to-find photographs and video footage as well as interviews with past and present leaders who have shaped the railroad’s history.

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