Sunday, May 01, 2011
It's hard to believe, but 40 years ago today on May 1st 1971, Amtrak began operations, assuming operation of America's once proud network of passenger trains.
Begining during the mid to late 1950's and continuing through out the 1960's, America's railroads were begining to lose passenger patronage and revenue, as many people began to do their traveling by commercial jet airlines. Few people were actually booking tickets on passenger trains. Eventually, begining with cutbacks in service and ammenities to reduce costs, some railroads like the Frisco, MKT, the Soo Line and a few others, would leave the passenger train business before the 1960's were over.
Before it was all said and done, some railroads kept the profitable Crack Limiteds" or "Deluxe" pasenger trains operating, but the remaining ones were threatened with extinction.
In the year of 1970, the late United States President Richard M. Nixon signed in to law "The National Rail Passenger Service Act", wich would soon become known as Amtrak.
Amtrak began operations on May 1st, 1971, resuming the remaining passenger train services in the Nation. The railroads wanted to focus on their profitable freight train operations instead. Three railroads that decided not to turn their passenger train operations to Amtrak were , The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, The Southern Railway, and the Denver & Rio Grande Western. The Rock Island would cease their passenger train operations in December of 1978, the Southern Railway bowed out in 1979, and the Denver & Rio Grande Western ceased operating their lone Rio Grande Zephyr in 1983.
Somr people thought that Amtrak would only last a few years, as Goverment funding or the lack of it, has been an issue since day one.
40 years later, a few dicontinuences, some additions,old equipment retirements and new equipment acquisitions...Amtrak is alive and well today.
Congratulations Amtrak on Your 40th.