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Don't Sell Amtrak Short: Rail Travel Can Often Be Swift, Safe, Convenient

March 22, 1995



Don't Sell Amtrak Short: Rail Travel Can Often Be Swift, Safe, Convenient

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Regarding the article ''Republican Cost-Cutters Track Amtrak,'' March 15: It is distressing that the author seems mostly to have spoken with opponents of rail travel. This will only influence opinion toward the abolition of train service, which would be a disastrously shortsighted move.

Train travel is more comfortable, often more convenient, safer, and more environmental than either air or automobile travel.

We would like to mention three things:

1) The author mentions ''deteriorating stations.'' However, local authorities have recently renovated a number of stations on the Northeast Corridor, such as in Boston, Providence, R.I., and Washington.

2) Passenger trains are not the only form of transportation that is subsidized. Air travel and automobile travel are both heavily subsidized in the government funding of airport and highway construction.

3) The train is hardly an outmoded form of transportation, as people quoted in the article would have you believe. An outstanding example of this is the TGV high-speed rail network in France.

The success or value of passenger train service must not be measured by such a narrow yardstick as profitability. If anything, train service could even be increased; the train appears to be at or near capacity on every trip that we make.

Dorothea E. Rees and William S. Edwards, Cambridge, Mass.

Amtrak needs new management plan

I was pleased to see the article ''Republican Cost-Cutters Track Amtrak,'' March 15, but am baffled by one critical omission: Air and highway transport is also heavily subsidized, and that, in effect, is a subsidy for private industry.

I am not much of a defender of Amtrak, but I use it. When Amtrak works, it's excellent; but you can't overlook the condition of trains, fractured service, and the overworked staff. Certainly, Amtrak has systemic problems and needs serious overhaul; but the privatization paradigm doesn't make sense unless you consider federally funding railbeds, where Amtrak owns the trains and uses the rails for free.

Amtrak's subsidy is too high, but in perspective, hardly outrageous. The best answer for Amtrak is reliable funding and capital investment, and a competent management plan.

James Justen, Minneapolis

A violent match against girls in soccer

The editorial ''Soccer Without Violence,'' Feb. 8, and the letter ''Playing Soccer Responsibly,'' March 1, fail to mention the violence against girls playing soccer. Soccer violence starts at a young age. Girls playing on a boys' team will see more physical and verbal violence against them than if they went to see the movie, ''Die Hard.'' The coaches can't make you quit, but they can make the season unbearable. The coach is responsible for seeing that the team plays without violence against teammates, spectators, and other teams. Coaches need to put aside their prejudice against women and unite the entire team. Play soccer. Don't play the people.

Laura E. Wallis, Rexburg, Idaho

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