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Amtrak - Essay Example

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Transportation is one of the most basic responsibilities of governments in the United States. Public programs supported the initial construction of much of the nation's railroad system, the building of nearly all of the nation's roads and highways, the development of the air transportation system, and the construction of many of the facilities and routes used for water transportation…
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Download file to see previous pages... The construction of the Interstate Highway System greatly enhanced the appeal of road transportation, both for passengers and freight. Air travel became the dominant public carrier mode for intercity passenger travel. In addition, the national government found itself in the passenger train business (Adrian, 1977).
Early in U.S. history, passenger travel was often difficult and uncomfortable. With the coming of the railroads, people gained the ability to travel farther and faster than most had ever imagined. Although the early passenger trains were not very comfortable, track and equipment gradually improved. The railroads helped to link different sections of the country and speeded the settlement of the western United States. The railroads were among the first big businesses in the United States, and major railroad executives became celebrities (Adrian, 1986). By 1900, a traveler on a first-class train could expect to find good food, a library, a barbershop, and the company of prominent individuals from the worlds of business, politics, and entertainment. The passenger train for a time appeared to occupy a secure place in society (Beebe, 1976).
Any organization must strike a balance between stability and change, and transportation organizations are no exception. Changing public preferences, new technologies, population movements, and rising or falling prices of supplies may force an organization to make drastic changes in many aspects of its operations. Although transportation organizations must change at times to keep pace with shifting external conditions and to manage internal pressures, a degree of organizational stability is essential. For example, transportation systems require substantial public and private investment in fixed facilities, vehicles, and personnel training. A high degree of instability risks rendering those investments irrelevant or wasteful.( Bowersox,1989)

Amtrak has faced considerable difficulties in trying to achieve the desired balance of stability and change needed to maintain credibility as a transportation mode. Beginning with uncertain and conflicting goals, the Amtrak system seemed to be destined for chaos rather than predictability. Repeated attacks by the Reagan administration, conservatives in Congress, and bus companies seemed to foretell large cutbacks or even termination. Moreover, the nation's passenger train system was in relatively poor condition at the time of Amtrak's creation; maintaining the conditions that existed in 1971 would hardly give the system credibility. (Amtrak, 1996)
Nonetheless, the Amtrak system has managed to achieve a substantial degree of stability, coupled with significant change - much of it in the nature of improvement. The political turmoil surrounding Amtrak stands in stark contrast to the substantial operational consistency and improvement that the system has achieved.

Amtrak Logistic and supply chain Route:
One of the fundamental features of any transportation system is its overall reach, the extent of its routes, the number of access points available on those routes, and the utilization of the routes. A system that experiences rapid expansion of its overall reach is likely to be faced with challenges. Quick expansion brings ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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