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Rails will have future benefit

February 23, 2012
Lake Placid News

To the editor:

Before eliminating trains from Lake Placid's future, we should remember that rail service in the United States did not die entirely of natural causes.

The railroads found passengers an expensive nuisance and drove them away, even saying trains were full when they were not. And they liked only some kinds of freight. Having gotten Congress to help the Railway Express Agency by limiting what could be sent by Parcel Post, they lost interest, leaving the express business to United Parcel, thus cutting further their relations with the public.

As the sheer degree of the auto industry's complacency showed how much better it could be run, the same was true of passenger rail, but the government shrunk it rather than forcing reform.

Now, as the years pass, the rising cost of fuel will affect trains less than cars, buses and airplanes because steel wheels on steel rails waste little energy. Further, an aging population will have more old people who do not like to drive.

Right now Amtrak will take me from Washington, D.C. to Lake Placid - the bit from Westport by bus - for $93.85. Younger people pay $106. One no longer has to change stations in New York, and the run up the Hudson Valley and along Lake Champlain is a beautiful as ever.

When years ago I needed to go to Vancouver, B.C. I went to the Lake Placid station, bought a yards-long ticket, and went. Those New York Central tracks that carried me are a gift from those who came before us. If spared, they will delight and serve those who come after.

Charles W. McCutchen

Bethesda, Maryland

 
 

 

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