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My family of five has taken two long train trips; from Michigan to Glacier National Park in the summer and to a ski resort in the middle of winter. In both cases, AMTRAK was our only option. We quickly learned that if you ignored the fact that the trains usually run late (our winter return home was 13 hours late due to high snow levels in a California mountain pass), and that most of the unionized employees on the trains are more concerned about getting their fair share (and more) of break time than making your trip enjoyable, you could have a delightful trip! We were able to walk about, sit on the sightseer car, eat meals in the dining car and spend a lot of conversational time with our three children. We watched movies on our computer, played cards and enjoyed the serenity of a long train ride. We met interesting people on both trips, and spent hours talking with them. When was the last time you had a long conversation with a stranger? There is something very nostalgic that attracts us to train travel.
The best thing about train travel was not worrying about time schedules — there was nothing we could do about it anyway. No complaining about crazy and inconsiderate drivers, like the “Left Lane Larrys” that plant themselves in the left lane at below the speed limit, no unscheduled stops for emergency bathroom breaks. My only disappointment (besides the service) was my inability to read for very long, due to the wavy nature of the tracks, which kept our bodies in a constant, subtle motion.
But in today’s hurry up world, few people want to spend a few extra days getting to their vacation destinations, so the demand for long distance train travel is unlikely to rise. It is too bad that politics will prevent AMTRAK from seeing any real competition, which would force it to improve or go out of business and make room for a more efficient private company, and thus attracting more customers.p>My wife and I both work hard and the keep very busy in the evenings and weekends with three children in hockey, travel soccer, volleyball, scouts, etc., so when we take vacations, we really like to relax. Probably the only thing that will keep me from sleeping well on our next AMTRAK adventure is the realization that while we are relaxing, millions of Americans are working hard to pay more taxes to subsidize our trip. But wait a minute; I don’t sleep well on trains anyway… br> — Mike Spencer br> Midland, Michigan /p>
If there is a coda to be added to William Tucker’s essay on Amtrak (“Rolling Disaster,” March 15) it is that any future privatization should be absolute and top-to-bottom. The privatization of the UK’s railways on a local franchise basis has been a disaster.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?