Travel Reference
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of the train. Rolling stock, most of which had been old to begin
with, was deteriorating rapidly, and there was little money avail-
able for repairs, let alone any kind of orderly maintenance pro-
gram. Worst of all, in Amtrak's first few years, locomotive fail-
ures occurred at the rate of ten per day. Per day ! There was no
money for new ones, of course, so Amtrak had to scrape together
whatever cash it could and go back to the used locomotive mar-
ket, buying poor equipment to replace terrible equipment.
In many areas of the country, Amtrak had to haul all that
run-down equipment over poor track, which added to the woes
of beleaguered passengers. Railroads were in poor financial
shape after the disastrous '60s, and rather than spend money to
maintain their track, most simply let it deteriorate and reduced
the speed of their freight trains accordingly. Amtrak passenger
trains running over that same track had two options: run at the
highest safe speed possible and cause discomfort to your passen-
gers from the bouncing and swaying, or reduce speeds and frus-
trate your passengers with slow trains and late arrivals. Some
Finally, many of the onboard crews, which Amtrak had
inherited from private railroads along with all that run-down
equipment, brought with them casual if not downright hostile
attitudes. After all, they had probably been working for a rail-
road that had been actively trying to discourage passenger busi-
ness for years.
For the record, however, a few railroads continued to guard
their reputation for quality and service. One was Santa Fe, which
had begun operating the deservedly famous Super Chief between
Chicago and Los Angeles in 1948. Amtrak had taken over the
route, but Santa Fe's chairman, John Reed, was so distressed
at the level of service being provided that he indignantly with-
drew permission for Amtrak to use the Super Chief name. That
decision was never reversed. Today, although it has become one
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