At the End of the Progressive Rainbow: Amtrak
May 29, 2015
It was established in 1970 to help the struggling railroad industry by placing its unprofitable private passenger-rail lines under federal control. Amtrak’s creators believed that a unified rail network with Uncle Sam in charge would be successful enough that federal funds wouldn’t be needed. Its first chairman, David W. Kendall, claimed, “This new system can and will succeed because it unifies for the first time the operation and promotion of the nation’s rail passenger service.” More than four decades and $44 billion in taxpayer subsidies later ($70 billion when adjusted for inflation), however, Amtrak has yet to deliver a single year of profitability.