While the Russians were staging their annual parade in Moscow’s Red Square on May 一天 50 years ago, 美国铁路公司诞生于华盛顿的朗方广场. The company came into the world under a death sentence known only by a select few in the railroad industry and the Nixon White House. The plan was to create a cash-strapped passenger railroad destined to fail from starvation.
Amtrak was created because competition from interstate highways and the airlines had driven down revenues, 这使得乘客损失更大. 宾夕法尼亚中央大学的赤字最大. 当杰维斯兰登, 宾夕法尼亚中央银行的受托人, 回忆, “运输乘客破坏了东北部的铁路.“因此, 法官约翰Fullam, 是谁主持了它的破产, 命令铁路公司关闭客运列车.
Since Penn Central ran the originating segments of such trains as the Seaboard Coast Line’s Silver Meteor, 其他道路都依赖它. Slowly Congress began to realize that passenger service was costing all the nation’s railroads, and soon it took over the rail passenger business of all but three railroads by creating the National Railroad Passenger Corp.,或者美国铁路公司.
The Federal Railroad Administration then assigned one of its young staffers, James W. 麦克莱伦，来精简全国客运网络. McClellan killed such notable trains as the City of New Orleans and the Wabash Cannonball, so when Amtrak opened for business on May 1 it was operating one-third of what had been the nation’s passenger fleet.
铁路公司的首席执行官们，比如北方伯灵顿的路易斯·门克，讨厌客运列车. 火车不仅赔钱, 他们复杂的操作, 延误货运服务，破坏轨道. 美铁本应是一个实验, and Menk and others conspired with the Nixon White House to starve Amtrak for the subsidies it needed to be a successful enterprise, thereby giving the administration an excuse to declare the experiment a failure and kill Amtrak. Unknowingly Congress had aided that compact by failing to provide enough subsidies at Amtrak’s start.
罗杰·刘易斯, 一个和蔼可亲的人，曾经是通用动力公司的负责人, 国防承包商, 被任命为总裁. 不幸的是, 刘易斯 had been fired from General Dynamics and always seemed reluctant to stand up to Nixon and possibly get fired a second time. 刘易斯, 谁没有铁路方面的经验, also seemed reluctant to make decisions and did not get out on the property other than to ride the Broadway Limited to Chicago or even take the Metroliner to New York.
刘易斯 and his board hired Harold Graham of Pan American World Airways as marketing vice president. Graham and others on the staff came from airlines and thought only they knew how to deal with passengers and viewed railroaders with disdain. “We’re having to correct all these old practices that developed over the years,” Graham said. 他试图使火车像飞机一样, 与所有的小屋, 座位, 和食物看起来一样, 他从纽约到波士顿的火车上带走了餐车，从地铁上带走了俱乐部车厢. He even was determined to fulfil the dream of many airline people and kill off first class.
On his arrival Graham launched a nationwide advertising campaign declaring that “The 火车 Are Back.” He cut fares on some routes that drew in enough new passengers to cut a few trains’ losses. 人们开始大规模响应, 当燃料短缺意外地席卷全国时，更多的人很快加入了这个行列, 迫使许多司机坐火车. 很快，全国各地的售票处都排起了长队, 导致客流量每年增长15%.
尽管格雷厄姆的策略是正确的，但美国铁路公司完全没有做好准备. 车厢和车站都很脏. 一些火车很快就被预订了几个月，座位被超售. 许多火车晚点了. “美国铁路公司(Amtrak)的准点率记录看起来糟糕得可以让你呕吐,安东尼·哈斯韦尔抱怨道, 谁领导了全国铁路乘客协会.
乘用车, 尤其是那些来自拥挤的东北道路的人, 需要修理和翻新. But what funds Congress appropriated went for decorating the cars rather than heavy maintenance, 这是他们每四年需要的. 终于，在美国铁路公司成立一年半之后，弗兰克·S. “拍”王, 美国铁路公司的运营副总裁, 启动了一个重型维修计划, 但到那时，四分之一的舰队已经错过了在商店的时间. 它从来没有赶上.
“他们用迷幻的装饰完成了任务, 但是厕所坏了, 空调也坏了", W说. 格雷厄姆•Claytor小.他是南方铁路公司的总裁，也是客运列车的爱好者. His road was one of the three that did not immediately turn over their passenger operations to Amtrak.
By 1974, 美国铁路公司的第三个生日, more than one-fifth of its car fleet was out of service and those running often had no lights or air conditioning. 美铁缺乏汽车. 总统日的周末在5点之间,000年,7,东北走廊的000名乘客被迫肩并肩站着, 有些在车厢之间的月台上.
当国会谈到向该公司提供补贴时, 政府坚持认为美铁需要盈利，需要自谋生路. It even told Amtrak that long-term planning was unnecessary because eventually it would be cut down to only a few routes or perhaps disbanded altogether.
Congress had become so alarmed at Amtrak’s poor performance in 1972 that it worked to have 刘易斯’ salary by more than half, 但由于尼克松控制了美国铁路公司的董事会，它几乎没有起到什么作用. 最后, 在1974年春天，洛厄尔·魏克, 他是康涅狄格州的共和党人，是参议院商业委员会的成员, 读一本揭露美国铁路公司麻烦的杂志, 并获得了足够多的董事投票来罢免刘易斯.
接替他的是负责巴尔的摩号客运业务的保罗·莱斯特鲁普(Paul reisstrup) & 俄亥俄和伊利诺斯中部. 国会开始确保美国铁路公司得到政府的资金, restrup开始利用新的现金流来扭转业务. Among other things he bought Penn Central’s Beech Grove shops and acquired bi-level cars for long-distance trains.
当然, Reistrup没有让美铁盈利, and Congress has never recognized that passenger trains never can make money and must be run as a public service like the highways. Congress’ other great mistake was—and still is–its failure to make Amtrak a line item in each year’s federal budget so it no longer is treated as an experiment.