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Amtrak at Thirty-Five
Good morning. Today is Amtrak's 35th anniversary. I recall the day Amtrak first started running trains. It was a beautiful day and I walked over to Washington Union Station just to see what was going on. I hoped Amtrak represented a new day for those of us who were at the time dedicated train travelers.
But if I knew then what I know now, I would have visited Capitol Hill to reverse arguments I had made in support of Amtrak. I say that because the law of unintended consequences took over, and Amtrak today is but a shadow of what I and others had anticipated.
I'll address some key events that influenced Amtrak's history. President Richard Nixon
President Nixon created Amtrak when he signed the Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970, which authorized $40 million in funding. His Secretary of Transportation, John Volpe, predicted Amtrak "could be profitable within perhaps three years."