Getting Amtrak on track

I praise you for pointing out, in the editorial ``Track troubles'' [Feb. 12], that airlines and buses also receive lavish federal subsidies. Since 1981 Amtrak's dependence on government subsidy has decreased 23.7 percent. I doubt there is one other department with such a record. The expansion of the Amtrak system instead of its abolition would help reduce the loss of life on our highways and the financial waste of crashes, currently over 43,000 and over $40 billion, respectively. Samuel E. Stokes Jr. Alstead, N.H. For every passenger who rides Amtrak, it costs taxpayers approximately $34. The same amount is spent on airline passengers, and when air traffic control is factored in, the balance tips in favor of airlines being far more costly to taxpayers.

If we are going to do away with subsidies let's be fair and get rid of subsidies for Israel, Japan, Germany, the United Nations, etc. How much will that save us? Undoubtedly, billions. There is a lot of fat still to be trimmed, but let's not cut back Amtrak. W. Graham Claytor (who should be given a medal by Elizabeth Dole) has done an unbelievable job in trimming and modernizing Amtrak. Not a single other federal agency with budget surveillance every four years has done likewise. Richard DeGarmo Chico, Calif.

It is distressing to hear of the President's desire to abandon Amtrak. It was my happy privilege to take a trip on Amtrak last summer. I spent eight days and five nights on Amtrak Superliners seeing the Western United States. I made only two stopovers and enjoyed every minute. The service in every way -- attendants, accommodations, meals -- was excellent.

I would gladly make a contribution to help keep Amtrak running. Every citizen and every travel agent in the US should rally behind Amtrak to ensure its continuance. Other major countries boast excellent rail service. We need to mount a campaign to save our railroads. M. E. Purviance Hillsboro, Mo.

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