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that's still its name. Given the American propensity for nick-
names, it's not surprising that the company almost immediately
became known simply as Railpax, “pax” being common short-
hand in the travel industry for “passengers.” Within months—
supposedly because a few critics of rail travel had begun referring
to the new company as “Railpox”—the name was changed to
Amtrak, an acronym for “ Am erican tr avel by tr ak .”
An arrow-shaped logo was adopted, and wags almost instantly
dubbed it “the pointless arrow” (proving, I suppose, that someone
will always find something to
pick on). Amtrak adopted a
new, more contemporary logo
years later, but you will still
see the old logo on some sta-
tions and platforms around
the country.
As President Nixon began naming directors to the new com-
pany's board, it was soon noted that there was not one railroad
person among them. Then, continuing this puzzling precedent,
the board's choice to be Amtrak's first president was Roger Lewis,
who was available for the job by virtue of having been recently
fired from his position as head of General Dynamics. Lewis
assumed his new job just one week before Amtrak's scheduled
start date. Don Phillips, a Washington-based journalist whose
credentials include stints as a transportation writer at United
Press International, the Washington Post , and Trains magazine,
came to like the man personally; however he publicly speculated
on Lewis's real assignment. “I am persuaded,” he wrote, “that
[Lewis] took the job with orders from the White House—direct
or indirect—to oversee an orderly shutdown [of Amtrak].”
Some were startled by Lewis's priorities as he began what was
undeniably a daunting job. One early Amtrak employee, Kevin
McKinney, recalled in a Trains magazine story that in Lewis's
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