American freight rail was technologically obsolescent and hamstrung by union rules and government rate regulation. American passenger rail was unprofitable and unreliable.
Freight rail was losing business to trucking firms. Passenger rail was losing out to cars on the new interstate highways and airplanes on long routes.
The past 40 years have seen a laboratory experiment on how to revive railroads. Government has gotten out of freight rail, while passenger rail has become largely a public sector function.
We've had a chance to...