Wisconsin High-Speed Rail Negative by BWOnDD


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High Speed Rail Negative

             Wisconsin High-Speed Rail Negative
                              Table of Contents

1NC Frontline                                     2-7

Answers and Extensions

High Speed Rail Hurts Economic Growth             8-9

High Speed Rail Jobs Aren’t Permanent             10

Federal Deficits Hurt Economic Growth             11

Status Quo Solves                                 12

MDL Spring Challenge Tournament
High Speed Rail Negative

                High-Speed Rail 1NC Frontline (1/6)
1. Turn: The cost of high-speed rail is too high and would lead to massive budget

A. High-speed rail would contribute significantly to the national debt, would be a
burden on tax-payers, and would stall national economic growth.

Cox, January 31, 2011 [Wendell, principal of Demographia, an international public-
policy consultancy in St. Louis. “High-Speed Rail, Budget Buster”,

If the nation is going to reduce its out-of-control spending, the first step is to stop
spending money on things we do not need. Despite President Obama’s call in his State of
the Union speech for linking 80 percent of the nation by high-speed rail, it is hard to
imagine a more unnecessary program.

For example, people who travel between Los Angeles and San Francisco — along the
route planned for one of the nation’s first high-speed-rail projects — already have
choices. They can fly, drive, take the bus, or travel by train. True, some would prefer to
tax their fellow citizens so that they can have another choice, high-speed rail. But
indulging this desire would be as legitimate as funding government grocery stores for
people who prefer not to shop at their local grocery chains.

Among intercity transport modes, only Amtrak is materially subsidized. User fees pay
virtually all the costs of airlines and airports, which (together with connecting ground
transportation) link any two points in the nation within a day. The intercity highway
system goes everywhere, and nearly all of it was built with user fees paid by drivers,
truckers, and bus companies.

High-speed rail is a budget buster. Japan, with the world’s leading system, illustrates the
financial devastation that high-speed rail can produce. For 25 years, Japan borrowed to
build a system serving the ideal rail corridor, nestled along a single coast with a
population of more than 75 million people. Ridership was artificially increased by high
gasoline prices and one of the highest highway tolls in the world. Yet this modest system,
only twice as long as proposed California system, played a major role in driving up a
gargantuan rail debt that was transferred to Japanese taxpayers. The rail debt added more
than 10 percent to the national debt. This is akin to adding $1.4 trillion to the U.S.
national debt.

Virtually everywhere high-speed rail has been constructed, financial liability has fallen to
the taxpayers. In Taiwan and the United Kingdom, taxpayers assumed billions of dollars
in private debts for much more modest high-speed-rail systems than Japan’s.

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High Speed Rail Negative

                   High-Speed Rail 1NC Frontline (2/6)
B. Large domestic budget deficits are catastrophic for the U.S. economy

Bergsten, November 2009 [C. Fred, Peterson Institute for International Economics, “The Dollar
and the Deficits: How Washington Can Prevent the Next Crisis”, Article appeared in Foreign
Affairs, Volume 88 No. 6] http://piie.com/publications/papers/paper.cfm?ResearchID=1312

Even as efforts to recover from the current crisis go forward, the United States should launch new
policies to avoid large external deficits, balance the budget, and adapt to a global currency system
less centered on the dollar. Although it will take a number of years to fully implement these
measures, they should be initiated promptly both to bolster confidence in the recovery and to
build the foundation for a sustainable US economy over the long haul. This is not just an
economic imperative but a foreign policy and national security one as well.

A first step is to recognize the dangers of standing pat. For example, the United States' trade and current
account deficits have declined sharply over the last three years, but absent new policy action, they are likely
to start climbing again, rising to record levels and far beyond. Or take the dollar. Its role as the dominant
international currency has made it much easier for the United States to finance, and thus run up, large trade
and current account deficits with the rest of the world over the past 30 years. These huge inflows of foreign
capital, however, turned out to be an important cause of the current economic crisis, because they
contributed to the low interest rates, excessive liquidity, and loose monetary policies that—in combination
with lax financial supervision—brought on the overleveraging and underpricing of risk that produced the

It has long been known that large external deficits pose substantial risks to the US economy because
foreign investors might at some point refuse to finance these deficits on terms compatible with US
prosperity. Any sudden stop in lending to the United States would drive the dollar down, push inflation and
interest rates up, and perhaps bring on a hard landing for the United States—and the world economy at
large. But it is now evident that it can be equally or even more damaging if foreign investors do finance
large US deficits for prolonged periods.

US policymakers, therefore, must recognize that large external deficits, the dominance of
the dollar, and the large capital inflows that necessarily accompany deficits and currency
dominance are no longer in the United States' national interest. Washington should
welcome initiatives put forward over the past year by China and others to begin a serious
discussion of reforming the international monetary system. If the rest of the world again
finances the United States' large external deficits, the conditions that brought on the
current crisis will be replicated.

To a large extent, the US external deficit has an internal counterpart: the budget deficit. Higher
budget deficits generally increase domestic demand for foreign goods and foreign capital and thus
promote larger current account deficits. But the two deficits are not "twin" in any mechanistic
sense, and they have moved in opposite directions at times, including at present. The latest
projections by the Obama administration and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) suggest
that both in the short run, as a result of the crisis, and over the next decade or so, as baby boomers
age, the US budget deficit will exceed all previous records by considerable margins. The Peterson
Institute for International Economics projects that the international economic position of the
United States is likely to deteriorate enormously as a result, with the current account deficit rising

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High Speed Rail Negative

                   High-Speed Rail 1NC Frontline (3/6)
                                          [Bergsten continues…]

from a previous record of six percent of GDP to over 15 percent (more than $5 trillion annually)
by 2030 and net debt climbing from $3.5 trillion today to $50 trillion (the equivalent of 140
percent of GDP and more than 700 percent of exports) by 2030. The United States would then be
transferring a full seven percent ($2.5 trillion) of its entire economic output to foreigners every
year in order to service its external debt.

This untenable scenario highlights a grave triple threat for the United States. If the rest of the
world again finances the United States' large external deficits, the conditions that brought on the
current crisis will be replicated and the risk of calamity renewed. At the same time, increasing US
demands on foreign investors would probably become unsustainable and produce a severe drop in
the value of the dollar well before 2030, possibly bringing on a hard landing. And even if the
United States were lucky enough to avoid future crises, the steadily rising transfer of US income
to the rest of the world to service foreign debt would seriously erode Americans' standards of

Hence, new record levels of trade and current account deficits would likely levy very heavy costs on the
United States whether or not the rest of the world was willing to finance these deficits at prices compatible
with US prosperity. Washington should seek to sharply limit these external deficits in the future—and it is
encouraging that the Obama administration has indicated its intention to move in that direction, opting for
future US growth that is export-oriented, rather than consumption-oriented, and rejecting the role of the
United States as the world's consumer of last resort.

Balancing the budget is the only reliable policy instrument for preventing such a buildup of
foreign deficits and debt for the United States. As soon as the US economy recovers from the
current crisis, it is imperative that US policymakers restore a budget that is balanced over the
economic cycle and, in fact, runs surpluses during boom years. Measures that could be adopted
now and phased in as growth is restored include containing the cost of medical care, reforming
Social Security, and enacting new taxes on consumption.

The US government's continued failure to responsibly address the fiscal future of the United
States will imperil its global position as well as its future prosperity. The country's fate is already
largely in the hands of its foreign creditors, starting with China but also including Japan, Russia,
and a number of oil-exporting countries. Unless the United States quickly achieves and maintains
a sustainable economic position, its ability to pursue autonomous economic and foreign policies
will become increasingly compromised.

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High Speed Rail Negative

                High-Speed Rail 1NC Frontline (4/6)
2. Job creation figures for Wisconsin are overstated. Most are low-paying
temporary jobs, with only 55 permanent jobs being created by the high-speed rail

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 6, 2010 [“Rail Jobs Estimate Drops By
Thousands”, http://www.jsonline.com/business/83698652.html]

Construction of a planned high-speed rail line between Wisconsin's two largest cities will
employ a maximum of 4,732 people at its peak in 2012, state figures show, despite earlier
claims from Gov. Jim Doyle's administration that the project would create some 13,000

The difference between the figures is a reflection of how state and federal officials count
jobs created with federal stimulus dollars, a process that has drawn criticism for double-
counting jobs that continue over time.

Last month, the federal government awarded the state $823 million for high-speed rail
projects. That included $651.8 million for a Milwaukee-to-Madison line that eventually
would reach a top speed of 110 mph, plus $158 million for inflation and contingencies on
that project, as well as $12 million to upgrade the existing Milwaukee-to-Chicago route
and $1 million to study extending high-speed service from Madison to the Twin Cities.

When the state applied for the stimulus money in October, Doyle's office issued a news
release saying, "The Milwaukee-to-Madison high-speed passenger rail service would
create nearly 13,000 jobs in the state by 2013."

But the job-creation figures listed in the grant application reflect total employment during
each year of construction: 1,281 this year, 4,060 next year, 5,535 in 2012, 1,847 in 2013,
621 in 2014 and 250 in 2015. Only by adding all of those annual figures together would
one reach a total of "nearly 13,000 jobs" - 12,723, to be precise - by 2013, or 13,594 by
the time construction ends.

Some of the jobs connected to the project would be filled by the same people from year
to year, conceded Chris Klein, executive assistant to state Transportation Secretary Frank
Busalacchi. Other jobs would be short-term positions replaced by other short-term
positions. For example, workers would be needed to clear land for track upgrades and
station construction at the beginning of the project, while those working in the middle of
the project would be laying tracks and building bridges and stations, Klein said.

Only 55 permanent jobs would be created to operate and maintain the trains, tracks and
stations, starting in 2013, the application says.

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High Speed Rail Negative

                High-Speed Rail 1NC Frontline (5/6)
3. In fact, high-speed rail jobs are some of the most expensive the government can
provide. Turns case.

Staley, August 19, 2009 [Sam, Ph.D., director of urban growth and land use policy for Reason
Foundation, “Why High-Speed Rail Fails as a Jobs Program”]

In April, President Barack Obama claimed "my high speed rail proposal will lead to
innovations in the way we travel" and new rail lines "will generate many thousands of
construction jobs over several years, as well as permanent jobs for rail employees and
increased economic activity in the destinations these trains serve."

Even House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who voted against the stimulus bill,
now wildly praises rail's job-creation potential, writing, "It is estimated that creating a
high-speed railway through Virginia will generate as many as 185,500 jobs, as much as
$21.2 billion in economic development, and pull nearly 6.5 million cars off the road
annually. Providing a high-speed rail service from Washington, D.C. to Richmond will
drive economic development throughout our region for many years to come."

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm calls the Midwest high-speed rail corridor a "one-of-a-
kind partnership that will create jobs for Michigan workers, enhance transportation
options for citizens, and provide significant economic development opportunities for

Parroting estimates made by the Association of American Railroads, Gov. Granholm
claims that a $1 billion investment in rail will generate 20,000 jobs. The $1 billion
estimate for "investment" refers to construction, maintenance, and the purchase of
equipment such as locomotives and train cars to run on rail lines.

Setting aside Rep. Cantor's ludicrous 185,000 job creation claims—which are so
unreasonably high as to strain credibility, let alone plausibility—even the 20,000 jobs per
billion dollars spent figure cited by Gov. Granholm would represent a very expensive
public jobs program. At the most basic level, that works out to $50,000 per job and would
likely represent a subsidy higher than the wages paid to the typical worker.

There are, in fact, better and cheaper ways to create jobs. For example, the federal
government could give tax credits to private firms that create new jobs. This type of new
jobs subsidy would run about $20,000 per worker and spur up to 1.3 million jobs
according analysis by the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Michigan.

MDL Spring Challenge Tournament
High Speed Rail Negative

                High-Speed Rail 1NC Frontline (6/6)
3. California and Florida prove – high-speed rail cost estimates are low. Costs will
rise dramatically once projects commence.

Cox, January 31, 2011 [Wendell, principal of Demographia, an international public-
policy consultancy in St. Louis. “High-Speed Rail, Budget Buster”,

High-speed-rail cost escalation has reached these shores. Even before the first shovel has
been turned, California’s high-speed-rail costs have risen at least 50 percent, inflation
adjusted. The cost estimates for the first approved section of the Los Angeles–to–San
Francisco line, a “train to nowhere” from Corcoran to Borden, indicate escalation beyond
$45 billion.

In Florida, boosters tell taxpayers that their liability for the Tampa to Orlando high-
speed-rail line would be only $280 million, and that, somehow, a private bidder will
shower additional billions upon them to pay any cost overruns.

4. Status-Quo Solves: Passenger rail, interstate and air travel networks already
connect the Midwest

Baron, January 18, 2011 [Michael, Senior Political Analyst at the Washington
Examiner, “High-speed rail is a fast way to waste tax-payers’ money”

When incoming Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio canceled
high-speed rail projects, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood refused to let them spend
the dollars on other forms of transportation and sent the funds instead to California and
other states.

Walker argued that Wisconsin didn't need $810 billion for a 78-mile line between
Madison and Milwaukee because there's already a transportation artery -- Interstate 94 --
that enables people to get from one city to the other in a little more than an hour (I once
drove that route to have dinner in Milwaukee).

Kasich's rationale? "They tried to give us $400 million to build a high-speed train that
goes 39 miles an hour." Train boosters countered that its top speed was 79 miles per hour
-- about the same as many drivers on Interstate 71.

MDL Spring Challenge Tournament
High Speed Rail Negative

        Extension: High-Speed Rail Hurts Economic Growth
High-speed rail would contribute significantly to the national debt and would place
a heavy long-term burden on tax payers

Nix, February 9, 2011 [Kathryn, Policy Analyst for the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Health
Policy Studies. “High Speed Funding in President’s Budget Means More Waste of Taxpayer
Dollars” http://blog.heritage.org/2011/02/09/high-speed-funding-in-president%E2%80%99s-

The President’s obstinate commitment to high-speed rail reflects a complete and utter neglect to
take deficit reduction seriously. Heritage’s Ronald Utt writes that a high-speed rail program
would create “perpetual massive government subsidies and larger budget deficits” and “additional
burdens imposed on hard-pressed state governments, which will be required to match the
perpetual federal subsidies to build the system.”

Funding has already been rejected by new governors in Wisconsin and Ohio, who campaigned
against the costly projects, which would initially receive partial funding from Washington but
would ultimately place a heavy burden on both federal and state taxpayers. Said Florida Governor
Rick Scott:

“Over the last few years, Florida accepted one time hand-outs from the federal government.
Those temporary resources allowed state and local governments to spend beyond their means. …
There was never any reason to think that Florida taxpayers could afford to continue that higher
level of spending once the federal hand-outs were gone.”

Despite its cost, high-speed rail will be ineffective at achieving its goals, if Europe’s experiences
are any indicator. High-speed rail is expected to reduce auto and air travel, but in Europe, the
trend is actually the opposite: Despite huge government subsidies, travelers are opting more and
more to take non-subsidized and less expensive forms of travel.

Per capita spending on rail alone in six European countries was comparable to the United States’
entire transportation budget, yet, says Utt, “these countries received a poor return on their money
given that more than 90 percent of passengers in these countries chose other travel modes—
mostly auto—despite the subsidies.” Moreover, Utt cites the U.S. Department of Transportation’s
Inspector General’s finding that reducing travel time between major East Coast cities by 30
minutes would cost $14 billion but only reduce auto transportation by less than 1 percent.

Experiences around the globe show that high-speed rail is unsustainable and requires large and
perpetual government subsidies. The gains of high-speed rail would be minimal, affecting only a
small portion of the population. The United States simply cannot afford such a project right now.
If President Obama is serious about investing in America’s future, he should focus on cutting
existing programs that are unaffordable and inefficient rather than adding another to their ranks.

MDL Spring Challenge Tournament
High Speed Rail Negative

                     Extension: High-Speed Rail Hurts Jobs
High-speed rail doesn’t contribute to long-term job creation and economic growth. Studies
indicating large growth assume freight rail, not passenger rail.

Staley, August 19, 2009 [Sam, Ph.D., director of urban growth and land use policy for Reason
Foundation, “Why High-Speed Rail Fails as a Jobs Program”]

Of course, rail proponents argue that spending money now on high-speed rail is a long-term investment that
will pay off in higher economic productivity over the long-haul. But these job creation and income
estimates they use are based on spending for freight rail, not passenger rail.

Freight rail in America is a crucial part of our transportation infrastructure, accounting for 43 percent of the
shipment of goods and services from one city to the other. Thus, investments in freight rail have a direct
impact on the bottom line for American businesses, increasing the speed and reliability of goods shipment
and improving productivity.

Passenger rail in the U.S. is a different story. Passenger rail currently carries a very small portion of city-to-
city travel—the market targeted by high-speed rail—and it's likely to remain modest well into the future. In
2008, Amtrak carried 28.7 million passengers. By comparison, there were 687 million airline passengers in
2008, in part because air service provides frequent high-speed travel to geographically distant cities. Then
there's our well-developed highway network that makes automobiles very competitive with rail for
distances under 200 miles. In most cases, once travel and wait times to train stations are factored in,
travelers will spend as much time in route on the train as they will in a car.

Consider a trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco, or Chicago to St. Louis, for a typical high-speed train
traveler. You'll likely have to drive to the train station and pay to park. Once arriving in downtown St.
Louis or San Francisco, you will likely have to take a taxi or rent a car to get to your hotel or meeting place
(which is likely to be outside the central business district). The reliable, diverse, and nimble transit system
that many advocates envision surrounding high-speed rail stations simply doesn't exist in most cities today,
limiting the appeal of trains. To compensate for these disadvantages, taxpayers will have to steeply
subsidize train ticket prices for the business travelers and tourists that are most likely to use them.

Ultimately, high-speed rail's impacts on American travel patterns and employment productivity are going to
be negligible, and the actual job creation potential for high speed rail is much more modest than proponents

Take, for example, the Ohio Hub corridor linking Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Toledo to regional
destinations such as Chicago and Toronto. Ohio is one of the nation's largest state economies, employing
5.3 million people. As an old-line manufacturing state, Ohio has lost 300,000 jobs just in the past year.
Needless to say, Ohioans will be attracted to the optimistic rhetoric of rail's job creation potential.
Moreover, preliminary estimates by independent consultants suggest the Ohio Hub may actually cover its
annual operating costs (although supporters are counting on the federal government covering 80 percent of
capital costs of the $3.7 billion project).

Yet, even with these federal subsidies the consultant reports suggest that a $2.3 billion investment in
building the rail corridor would generate only 54,540 jobs over the projected nine-year construction phase.
That works out to 2,635 jobs per year at a cost of $42,170 per job. Further analysis found 16,700 permanent
jobs would be created by the system once the system was up and running, assuming optimistically that
ridership reaches forecasted levels and fares are set to cover its operating costs. While that might seem like
a lot of jobs, the effort will do little to stem the economic tide turning against Ohio and other states facing
the headwinds of global competition and a rising services-based economy.

MDL Spring Challenge Tournament
High Speed Rail Negative
                                            [Staley Continues…]

For transportation investments to have a meaningful economic impact, they will need to cost-effectively
improve America's ability to move goods, services, and people from one place to another. High-speed rail
doesn't do that. It is an extremely costly way to achieve limited portions of these goals, and it inevitably
fails as a broad-based solution to the country's transportation challenges.

In the end, high-speed rail's contribution to the economic recovery and the nation's economic productivity
is being oversold. Elected officials, from Rep. Cantor to President Obama, would do a far greater service to
the public's understanding of the economy if they would focus on economic fundamentals, not glitzy
boutique policy programs that will inevitably fail to meet grandiose expectations they have created for

MDL Spring Challenge Tournament
High Speed Rail Negative

      Extensions: Federal Deficits Hurt Long-term Economic Growth

Large federal deficits could send the U.S. economy into a death spiral

Voice of America News, July 26, 2011 [“National Debts Can Threaten Economic Growth”,

Efforts to slash national debts are at the heart of fierce debates in United States and protests in other
nations. In some cases, these government debts are bigger than the entire economic output of the nation for
a year. Debt problems can slow economic growth, raise interest rates and make financial problems worse.

To get an idea just how large a nation's debts are, economists compare the size of the debt with the size of
the nation's economic output.

Economist Till Schreiber says too big a debt burden can hurt the economy.

"There is some research by economists that on average across all different countries - rich and poor and
medium income countries - 90 percent debt-to-GDP ratios suggest a slowdown in growth," said Schreiber.

Schreiber teaches at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. He says nations with strong industries
and domestic savings, like Japan, can bear far larger debt burdens than other countries, like Portugal, which
has lost many of its industries and jobs to foreign competition. Lenders express their confidence in Japan's
economy by offering loans to Tokyo at relatively low interest rates, while Portugal has to pay a high rate,
called a "risk premium." La Salle University Finance Professor Walt Schubert says investors and lenders
set interest rates by looking closely at a nation's economy.

"The ability to pay [repay loans] is the ultimate issue," said Schubert. "What investors are worried about is
what is going to happen to your debt and what is going to happen to your GDP."

Although experts have no doubt about the ability of the United States to repay its loans, major credit rating
agencies warn that they might downgrade America's credit rating unless Washington resolves the political
impasse between President Barack Obama and Republicans in Congress. Some experts say a downgrade
of America's AAA credit rating is a strong possibility, even if Congress and the President manage to work
out a deal before August 2 - the date the United States is expected to reach its debt ceiling and default on its
financial obligations.

A lower credit rating would bring higher interest rates on the $14.3 trillion U.S. debt, which is nearly as
much as the value of all of the goods and services produced in the United States in a year. The U.S. debt is
so large that even a small interest rate increase would cost billions of dollars.

American Enterprise Institute scholar Kevin Hassett says a debt rating change could set off a downward
economic spiral for the United States.

"As your rating goes down a little, the interest rate goes up a little, and then you have got to make more
interest payments and so your deficit gets larger," said Hassett. "And the larger deficit makes the rating
agency a little more nervous and so they lower your rating again. And then you end up in kind of a death

MDL Spring Challenge Tournament
High Speed Rail Negative

                            Extension: Status Quo Solves

High-speed rail would not change the status quo – commuters would still commute
by vehicle, and the economic and environmental impacts are negligible.

Samuelson, October 29, 2011 [Robert, Columnist for Newsweek Magazine, “High Speed Pork”

Somehow, it has become fashionable to think that high-speed trains connecting major
cities will help “save the planet.” They won’t. They’re a perfect example of wasteful
spending masquerading as a respectable social cause. They would further burden already-
overburdened governments and drain dollars from worthier programs—schools, defense,

Let’s suppose that the Obama administration gets its wish to build high-speed rail
systems in 13 urban corridors. The administration has already committed $10.5 billion,
and that’s just a token down payment. California wants about $19 billion for an 800-mile
track from Anaheim to San Francisco. Constructing all 13 corridors could easily
approach $200 billion. Most (or all) of that would have to come from government. What
would we get for this huge investment?

Not much. Here’s what we wouldn’t get: any meaningful reduction in traffic congestion,
greenhouse-gas emissions, air travel, or oil consumption and imports. Nada, zip. If you
can do fourth-grade math, you can understand why.

High-speed intercity trains (not commuter lines) travel at up to 250 miles per hour and
are most competitive with planes and cars over distances of less than 500 miles. In a
report on high-speed rail, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service examined the
12 corridors of 500 miles or less with the most daily air traffic in 2007. Los Angeles to
San Francisco led the list with 13,838 passengers; altogether, daily air passengers in these
12 corridors totaled 52,934. If all of them switched to trains, the number of airline
passengers, about 2 million a day, would drop only 2.5 percent. Any fuel savings would
be less than that; even trains need fuel.

Indeed, intercity trains—at whatever speed—target such a small part of total travel that
the effects on reduced oil use, traffic congestion, and greenhouse gases must be
microscopic. Every day, about 140 million Americans go to work, with 85 percent
driving an average of 25 minutes (three quarters drive alone, 10 percent carpool). Even
with 250,000 high-speed rail passengers, there would be no visible effect on routine
commuting, let alone personal driving. In the Northeast Corridor, with about 45 million
people, Amtrak’s daily ridership is 28,500. If its trains shut down tomorrow, no one
except the affected passengers would notice.


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