By Madison Butkus
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Amtrak enthusiast Dave Clinton hosted 'The History of Amtrak' event on Tuesday night at the Walpole Public Library. With extensive travel experience on nearly all Amtrak routes, Clinton adeptly discussed the past and future transformations of Amtrak.
Clinton, a longstanding member of the South Shore Model Railway Club, coincidentally one of America's oldest model railroad clubs, founded in Quincy in September 1938, currently operates from its headquarters in Bare Cove Park, Hingham.
Amtrak, also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, connects over 500 destinations across 46 states and three Canadian provinces. Spanning approximately 21,400 miles of track, Amtrak owns around 623 miles and operates an additional 132 miles. Certain track sections permit speeds of up to 150 mph. Recent data reveals that over 87,000 passengers ride more than 300 Amtrak trains daily.
Enthusiastic train aficionados filled the WPL Community Room, eager to hear Clinton's insights. He commenced his talk by screening a brief video produced by Amtrak in commemoration of its 50th anniversary, two years ago.
While delving into the history of this revered railway system, Clinton highlighted the arduous journey Amtrak had faced and the challenges it overcame to sustain its operations. Initially established in 1971, skeptics believed Amtrak would not survive even three years, let alone reach its current 52nd year of operation.
Regarding this, Clinton commented, "Various presidents, starting from Reagan, attempted to curtail Amtrak's budget. However, the advantageous aspect of Amtrak is that it traverses numerous states, thus garnering support from congressional representatives who wish to maintain Amtrak services, particularly in smaller towns. That's what has kept Amtrak afloat despite the presidents' intentions."
As newer, high-tech models emerge, only time will reveal the extent of Amtrak's future progress.