David Hughes sends the following:
Given the headline (“Amtrak to spin off Northeast Corridor“), one could be forgiven for thinking that Amtrak is about to privatize its most (and perhaps only) profitable region:
But then one reads the fourth paragraph:
“The plan, which would require action by Congress, is to transfer the corridor to a consortium including the federal government and the governments of the states in the region that would share the costs to maintain it.”
What, one wonders, is the point of privatizing Amtrak, if the spun-off sections of track right-of-way will also be taxpayer-financed, apparently with no private capital whatsoever? Furthermore, if it must choose between one or the other, why doesn’t Amtrak privatize the operation of its profit-draining trains first, and only later the real estate, which is among the most valuable in the world? Charging rent to private train firms could be quite lucrative — though few entrepeneurs would want to put their clients in the hands of Amtrak’s track maintenance.
The National Rail Passenger Alliance story cited by the Times is here:
It’s useful to note that Conrail was split amongst private railroad companies in 1985:
And, of course, JetBlue’s new $25 JFK-BOS service may render the point moot in any event. Amtrak charges $54-$106 for the same route.