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01/23/2010

Will Amtrak Survive?

        Awhile back I saw a film called Dinocroc, a sci-fi thriller about a laboratory-generated half-dinosaur and half-crocodile creature that runs amok in a recreational community, devouring everyone in sight.  At the conclusion of the film, the nearly indestructible creature, which is chasing a young heroic couple, is annihilated by a train, which, like the cavalry, arrives just in time to save the day. 

        While this Roger Corman production is certainly fantasy, there is a truth revealed in the conclusion:  the reality in today’s world is that for many travelers, especially veterans, like me, Amtrak has been a savior when it comes from escaping the “terror” of other modes of travel available to the citizens of the USA.  Train travel provides a safe alternate to air and car travel.   

        Should Amtrak cease to exist, the freedom of choice which Americans so cherish will come to an end, for travelers will be forced to either fly or drive.  The friendly skies might not be so friendly in the future and the more cars on the road, especially during the summer heat, will increase the potential for road rage. 

        Amtrak allows the stressed-out traveler on a cross-country journey to “chill out”—stating it in the current vernacular.  There is nothing equal to the panoramic sights that unfold as one sits back, looks out an Amtrak window, and appreciates--up close and personal--all the natural resources this country has to offer, such as the Rockies, the Sierra Nevada mountains, and that “old man river,” the Mighty Mississippi.  On the ride from Colorado to Sacramento, for example, a volunteer historian comes aboard and informs the travelers about the rich tradition of the early trains that helped pioneer cross-country travel, a bit more service than just the “coffee, tea, or milk” provided by air travel.  Of course, if air travelers are familiar with the Rorschach test, they might enjoy the images perceived in the cloud formations from the airplane window.   

        Finally, aside from providing travelers with economical rates, Amtrak gives veterans the opportunity to view the country that they once proudly fought for and served. 

        It is hoped that the Federal Government will not allow the heritage and history of the Iron Horse to end and will keep Amtrak alive to save the travel day for many Americans by allowing freedom of choice in travel.

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