Letters to the Editor. In defense of Amtrak

The editorial cartoon of Oct. 28 depicting the level of comfort aboard an Amtrak train triggered a swell of appreciation for the oft-beleaguered transit system. I have enjoyed the four-hour-plus run from St. Louis to Chicago and back many times. Except for the one occasion when the train didn't show at all(!), the rides have been very comfortable, uneventful, and equipped with a gracious dining car. The pleasure of viewing the small Illinois prairie towns from the clean windows has been most refreshing.

One final note. The day the train failed to show, Amtrak provided buses to take passengers ``express'' to Chicago. My bus broke down soon after departing, and after it transferred its passengers to an un-air-conditioned replacement we arrived in the Windy City 31/2 hours late! Glenn Felch Elsah, Ill.

As one who has traveled over 22,000 Amtrak miles during the past year, I can say that train travel to me is relaxing and comfortable, the food good, the scenery beautiful, and the fare very reasonable. I talked to over 1,000 fellow passengers about Amtrak's funding difficulties and found most all were enthusiastic Amtrak supporters. There should be some improvements, but the pleasures of train travel far outweighed occasional difficulty. Florence D. Burger Ithaca, N.Y.

The subsidy may indeed be of political import -- but when can low-income people travel so reasonably? I, in retirement, am considered living in the poverty level. However, in the last two years, I have been able to travel on Amtrak comfortably. Lucille Evans Milwaukee

A lot of families ride Amtrak. The children can walk around, visit the snack bar, and stretch their legs. And camaraderie develops among passengers. It is a wholesome part of the American scene, and I hope this part of it is here to stay. Helen Williamson DeWitt, N.Y.

Every mode of transportation has its snafus, and Amtrak has a few, too. However, in a brief comparison, my train rides have been smooth, in part because much of my travel is on Amtrak-owned track.

This year on the airlines I was cooped up in a TWA jet for five hours, endured a 45-minute departure delay on another airline, and had my flight canceled in La Guardia. I have had many bumpy rides on airplanes, have experienced sudden altitude changes, and have been frozen and cooked on airplanes. Charles Palenz Camp Hill, Pa.

Perhaps most unfair was the implication that only railroads are subsidized. Who paid for the Interstate Highway System? Who paid for airports around the country? Who pays for air controllers?

I have just completed a trip on Amtrak's Adirondack between New York and Montreal and was treated to spectacular fall foliage along the Hudson and Lake Champlain. Food was good and I arrived in Montreal literally around the corner from my hotel. Phillip H. Miller Annandale, Va.

On the front page of the Oct. 15 issue is the announcement of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to two doctors who founded the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) [``D'etente of a different sort: US-Soviet physicians find that cooperation wins the prize'']. Although they had political differences, the men decided to focus on the central purpose of their endeavor: to educate the public on the consequences of nuclear war. The conclusion of their studies was that destruc tion would be so great that no medical response would be possible. Why cannot Reagan and Gorbachev follow their example? How wonderful it would be if these two statesmen were to win the Nobel Peace Prize by renouncing further testing and production of nuclear weapons! Ann Craig Rice Arlington, Va.

A recent article concerning the IPPNW was quite puzzling. The focus of the organization is to eliminate the threat of nuclear war through nonpolitical means. The threat was initiated due to the opposing politics of different nations. Can this threat be resolved without discussing politics? Merri Litwiller Bloomington, Ill.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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