I read with chagrin and some amusement the article regarding the Amtrak Empire Builder and freight hauling [“Freight trains force repeated delays on popular Amtrak route,” News, Dec. 24].
As someone who has tried to schedule a train trip between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., only to be told, “No trains will run today, but we will schedule a bus,” the disappointment is palpable. So much for the romance of the rails.
As long as Amtrak has to run on rail lines owned and operated by commercial railroads, it will likely always be treated as a poor relation. Clearly the railroads run the show; freight trains were able to go between Seattle and Vancouver the day I called. The inner tracks dedicated to Amtrak were closed by mudslides.
Certainly the great distances in this country make other travel options more attractive. Who wants to spend two days on a train, when a jet can get them there in four hours? Yet there should be a place for a well-run passenger-train system more like the European model. Unless Amtrak is given more resources, or the powers of the commercial railroads are reduced, long-distance rail travel will only continue to falter.
Jed Marshall, Edmonds