Have you ever wanted to travel across the United States on a train? Well, most people do not realize that it is actually possible now. Industrial goods are one of the first things that come to my mind when thinking of the current conditions of the rail road industry. The reason is because passenger trains are relatively few and far between in comparison. However, Amtrak was first introduced in May of 1971. Amtrak is a reference to the corporation ran by the government that is responsible for the American Track. This is the largest and perhaps one of only a few passenger train agencies in America.
Amtrak is actually relatively big. It has almost 19,000 employees and the tracks cover 21,000 miles (33,800 km). With over 500 destinations and covering 46 states, it is definitely a viable traveling method. The year 2007 was a good one for Amtrak. It saw a 6% increase in the amount of passengers using their service from 2006.
To fully understand the impact of Amtrak you have to go back in history to view the turns that the rail road industry has taken. Almost everyone who understands the history of the United States knows that for about 70 years up until about 1920 if you were going to travel a relatively long distance you would almost always use the rail road. At that point in time, the rail roads were almost all owned privately and were in existence for profit. In fact, there were more rail road passenger cars back then than there are now. According to historians there were about 65,000 passenger cars actively being used in the year 1929.
World War II did, however, make a drastic change in the rail road industry. The government was forced to put fuel consumption restrictions on people in the United States. Almost all fuel was needed for troop movement throughout the war. With that said, many people returned to the rail roads once again to do any traveling at long distances.
After the war though, people began using their cars again for traveling. The rail road industry was failing miserably. By 1946 after the war, there were 45 percent fewer passenger carts being used than there were in 1929. It did not stop there, and the decline even fell greater by 1969 by a drop rate of 80 percent. There were very few trains that generated profits at all and many were producing losses.
Thanks to the government though, the rail road industry was somewhat bailed out through government funding. The federal aid was a sum of $40 million and Amtrak began operations with a $100 million insured loan. Amtrak started slow and by 1981 they were $1.25 billion in debt. Aid to Amtrak has been controversial however, Amtrak is slowly beginning to see profits and the rail road industry is now improving as more people find it as a viable source of traveling.