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Amtrak, America's RailroadAmtrak, America's Railroad

Transportation's Orphan and Its Struggle for Survival

Geoffrey H. Doughty, Jeffrey T. Darbee and Eugene E. Harmon

Narrated by Gary Willprecht

Available from Audible

Book published by Indiana University Press

Discover the story of Amtrak, America's Railroad, 50 years in the making.

In 1971, in an effort to rescue essential freight railroads, the US government founded Amtrak. In the post–World War II era, aviation and highway development had become the focus of government policy in America. As rail passenger services declined in number and in quality, they were simultaneously driving many railroads toward bankruptcy. Amtrak was intended to be the solution.

In Amtrak, America's Railroad: Transportation's Orphan and Its Struggle for Survival, Geoffrey H. Doughty, Jeffrey T. Darbee, and Eugene E. Harmon explore the fascinating history of this popular institution and tell a tale of a company hindered by its flawed origin and uneven quality of leadership, subjected to political gamesmanship and favoritism, and mired in a perpetual philosophical debate about whether it is a business or a public service. Featuring interviews with former Amtrak presidents, the authors examine the current problems and issues facing Amtrak and their proposed solutions.

Created in the absence of a comprehensive national transportation policy, Amtrak manages to survive despite inherent flaws due to the public's persistent loyalty. Amtrak, America's Railroad is essential reading for those who hope to see another fifty years of America's railroad passenger service, whether they be patrons, commuters, legislators, regulators, and anyone interested in railroads and transportation history.


“This excellent study details Amtrak's checkered 50 year history – its successes as well as its failures. In addition to an extensive bibliography of printed materials consulted, the authors interviewed a wide variety of persons with first hand knowledge of its operations and service delivery, which included passengers, front line employees, past Amtrak presidents, and government officials.”

—The Michigan Railfan

“This is not a typical railfan book with equipment photos and action shots. But for those who want to get into the nuts and bolts of Amtrak's creation and ongoing problems and solutions, I know of no better source than Amtrak America's Railroad.”

Classic Trains

“Amtrak's first 50 years reads like an industrial-sized soap opera. You literally can't separate the politics from the trains themselves. That's why Amtrak, America's Railroad makes for such a fascinating read for anybody who's even remotely interested in Amtrak and its trains. ”

Railfan & Railroad Magazine

Amtrak, America's Railroad is an engineering blueprint of Amtrak's past, with validation by many of the leaders who were instrumental in its development. It explores both successes and failures and their ramifications; and it shows that the issue of money alone has not solely contributed to Amtrak's "sawtooth" history of highs and lows. It is ideal reading for those with an interest in learning about Amtrak's past, its current state, and what its future could be.”

—Ronald L. Batory, Administrator for the Federal Railroad Administration, retired

All titles are published by:
University Press Audiobooks
an imprint of Redwood Audiobooks

University Press Audiobooks