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Greece's Debt Woes, Cont.

How do you say "Amtrak" in Greek?

10:32 AM, Jul 21, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
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Reading this piece on Greece's debt-ridden rail system in today's Times, I was struck by these lines:

In spite of about $3.2 billion of investment since 1997, outside of the main route between Athens and Thessaloniki, the network seems in many respects patchwork and at times chaotic.

Earlier this month, for example, a trip from Athens to Diakopto, a seaside town on the northern coast of the Peloponnese, took more than four hours. The journey required train passengers to complete a second leg by transferring to an overcrowded bus that was delayed for an hour. The result was a near riot as enraged passengers hurled abuse at overwhelmed train officials.

That seems to me to be a fair description of Amtrak rail-service outside the main Northeast Corridor line. Tell me again why governments subsidize at a loss public rail systems no one rides and few passengers like? "Joe Biden" does not count as an answer!

Bonus reading: John Tierney's classic 2002 piece for the Times magazine, "Amtrak Must Die."

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