Monday, February 20, 2006

In St. Louis, private train operator throws in the towel

Visitors to St. Louis Union Station may recall seeing the green-painted cars of RailCruise America parked on a siding west of the train shed. The "Green Train" was a popular choice for dinner excursions and charter moves, running "full to sold out" most of the year. At least one politician whistlestopped from its observation car.

Now its owner has sold the train to Kansas City Southern Railway and moved out of Union Station.

Rising costs were cited as one reason for the owner's decision. Another was the stunning realization that passengers hate late trains.
[T]he increasing congestion on the railroads resulted in a certain unpredictability of departure and arrival times. Higher prices with uncertainty do not make for good customer relations.
Moral of the story: Congestion and delays are not isolated to Amtrak. They are a fact of life on the nation's railways for all operators: freight, passenger, public, private, excursion, scheduled. At some point it will become necessary to make the condition of the national rail network a national priority.


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