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Friday, June 17, 2011

Amtrak’s Conflict of Interest

On June 15, 2011, U.S. House Republicans called for the breakup of Amtrak’s de facto monopoly of intercity and interstate passenger-rail transport in the United States. Specifically, Republican lawmakers proposed that the lucrative northeast routes be opened to private providers. For example, Richard Branson’s Virgin Trains had been seeking to provide service between Boston and Washington. Of course, letting one of the providers build and own the tracks even as other providers use the tracks would put that owner-provider in a conflict of interest in charging the other providers for their use of the track, so it would be preferable to have the U.S. Government supply the tracks and charge all of the private providers of train service.

The full essay is at Institutional Conflicts of Interest, available in print and as an ebook at Amazon.