WSJ Notable+ Quotable, Clark Whelton On Amtrak In City Journal, Autumn 2012

A recent Capitol Hill hearing offered grounds for suspicion that the railroad's 20,000 employees-- who average $90,000 a year in pay and benefits -- have cousins in high places.

It came out in the hearing that Amtrak loses more than $80 million a year on food services.
That comes to about $68,000 for each of the 1,200 people who work for Amtrak's food and beverage division. A cheeseburger that sells for $9.50 in an Amtrak cafe car costs the railroad $16.15.

So an average hot-dog vendor...could lease an Amtrak cafe car, turn a profit for himself and the railroad, and reduce food prices for passengers. Is there even a slight chance that such a thing could happen? Not according to what one heard at the hearing.

"Why are some members of Congress promoting the elimination of good middle class jobs with decent pay and benefits?" demanded Dwayne Bateman, vice general chairman of the union that represents train service workers.

Nick Rahall, the ranking Democrat on the House's Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, agreed. "It's a whopper of an idea, trading good-paying jobs for cheaper hamburgers," Rahall said.