Letter: Don’t fall for the Amtrak bait

Once again in Sunday’s Rockford Register Star an article was run regarding the money pit we have come to know as Amtrak. In this article, the writer (Chuck Sweeney) has chosen to put the blame on our local Republican legislators for failure of this project moving forward.

He also states in one part of the article that the Union Pacific’s tracks and bridges across the Fox and Rock Rivers must be improved and a connecting track near Elgin be built to connect to Metra’s line. The cost is over $200 million and is for some reason, known to very few, the responsibility of the Illinois Department of Transportation.

I say it this way because further on in the article he states “All passenger transportation, road and water-borne freight is heavily subsidized by government; only the nation’s freight railroads build, own and maintain their right’s of way.” So if the Transportation Department rebuilds bridges and builds a track connecting to Metra’s doesn’t that become a subsidy for Union Pacific’s company?

Wasn’t this whole debacle a ploy by former Governor Quinn to get votes? Why isn’t it ever mentioned that in the first year of operation the line is expected to lose $1.75 million? Tickets are estimated to cost $46 per person round trip, or $184 for a family of four, seriously. So what do they do when they arrive in Chicago, beg for food and drink?

This idea is Pollyannaish and should be scrapped. We had rail service once and it was terminated because of lack of riders, and with today’s “I need it now” consumers this isn’t going to fit. Lastly I will state that, if passenger rail were such a good thing, private enterprise would be all over it. They’re not, it isn’t.

Jake Henry

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