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All photos by Ron Goodenow. Reproduction without Ron's permission is prohibited.

January 6, 2005. Here's the Boston connection to the Lake Shore Limited on its way west in Westboro, Massachusetts. It's about the worst day of the year weather-wise. Snow, freezing rain, spinouts everywhere, Logan Airport delays, but here's a train that is spot on time. It's the not the train it was a few months ago -- the sleeper is gone and the cars no longer go through to Chicago -- but passengers can get good coffee and sandwiches, walk around, look out the window and know that they'll be getting where they're going. Think about it. Over the Christmas weekend upwards of 40,000 people were stranded, stripped of luggage and not told the truth by US Airways and a Delta subsidiary. So far not even a slap on the wrist. Had Amtrak closed services and stranded 100 folks somewhere along the line the boo-birds would have been out in force, demanding an end to federal subsidies and someone's head. The US Department of Transportation would probably have joined them. Is it possible that priorities in the good ole USA are a bit screwed up?????


Sunday, March 20, 2005. Amtrak's Downeaster is crossing the Merrimack River for a stop in Haverhill, Massachusetts, on its way from Boston to Portland, Maine. It gives one a lot of food for thought to see scenes like this -- scenes which will be obliterated by SUV and oil interests and the President of the United States unless Congress can get around to serious deliberations on our infrastructure, our environment, and what people want. This train is a good example of what's awry. It leaves a city beset by massive scandals surrounding its 'Big Dig', which is going to cost taxpayers up to 18 billion dollars. (and did not even include a relatively easy to build and inexpensive tunnel to connect North and South station, allowing Amtrak to runs NE Corridor trains on through to Maine). The Administration says that a bankrupt Amtrak will lead to interstate compacts to support rail but, if the experience surrounding the Downeaster is an example, that prognosis is bleak -- the Massachusetts transportation budget is depleted from the Big Dig and the welcome expansion of commuter rail, and one state on its route, New Hampshire, has yet to put a nickel into the service despite investments by local towns in stations. We'll bet more of our taxes are spent on the reconstruction of railways in Iraq than what is proposed to support increasingly popular -- and needed intercity rail in the US. Perhaps we'll learn from $60 a barrel, but don't bet on it. At the end of the day, though, 'It's Infrastructure, Stupid.'

Here's a Capitol Corridor train in Berkeley on its way from San Jose to Sacramento in March, 2005 (the train is heading away from the camera). Look carefully and you can see some of the new construction that will soon give Berkeley a functional and pleasant station for the first time in about 50 years. Think carefully about what is threatened by the proposed forced bankruptcy of Amtrak -- increased local and state investment in stations, equipment and services, an easy way to pop down to a local facility for easy and cheap boarding of a reliable intercity service and much, much more...regardless of time of day, weather or gas prices.

It's a warm May, 2005, Sunday and here's Amtrak's Vermonter departing Palmer, Massachusetts (where it does not have a station stop), on its way from St. Albans on south to Springfield, New York and Washington, DC. It has come into Palmer from Amherst, Mass. on the track seen to the left, where it is handswitched over to the CSX main line (any other Amtrak trains handswitched?) , and then reverses direction. The train was squeaky clean, right on time and a great sight for the many onlookers who drop by to enjoy a picnic lunch from a new snackbar in the old Palmer station, which also has a small railroad museum, and to see the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited, which will be heading west in a few minutes, and the northbound Vermonter and eastbound Lake Shore a little later in the day. The Vermonter is a success story in part because Vermont is one of the few states to fund more than one Amtrak intercity route. Under the 'guidelines' put forth by the Bush Administration's looney kill Amtrak scheme it would appear that the train will not be stopping anywhere else along its way to Washington if other states don't kick in. I guess the good news about that is that without station stops the train would whiz right on down to Washington and the politicians who cleared the way in record time.



Page created by: Craig O'Connell
Changes last made on:

June 16, 2005.



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