When Is Losing $112 Per Passenger Good News?


When you're Amtrak–the nation's passenger rail system and terrestrial version of NASA–when you compare it to the $208 per passenger loss in sleeper cars on the Capitol Limited.

Didn't Bill Clinton end welfare as we knew it? Somebody forgot to tell Amtrak, which is sucking up $1.2 billion in federal gravy this fiscal year and is poised to get $1.82 billion next FY (thanks to those cost-cutting, gov't-starving Republicans).

A new report says Amtrak could cut as much as $230 million in losses a year by, among other things, cutting sleeper cars and canning their POW-camp-level food service.

But if there's something magic about a train, there's something absolutely sacred about $5 for microwaved ham, egg, and vomit biscuits: "When it's dinner time, they expect to be served dinner," says an Amtrak VP.

One question (from someone who's ridden Amtrak in all sorts of situations): How does Amtrak–which has a on-time record that suggests no one in the $3 billion operation carries a watch–know when it's dinner time?

More here.

And in other Amtrak news, the system's version of the space shuttle, the Acela Express, which operates on its Bos-Wash route, is coming back on line. Any bets as to how long before it goes back up on blocks?