Public Administration ETDs

Publication Date



Despite some efforts to save it, the passenger train has been approaching extinction since the end of World War II.

Public Law 91-518, the "Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970", was signed into existence on October 30, 1970, by President Nixon. It is the latest attempt to save the dying passenger train, and the first major Congressional effort since 1958.

It is this latest attempt to save the passenger train which is the subject of this thesis. It will be the purpose of the thesis to try to verify the hypothesis that many interested parties would be drawn into the decision-making on PL 91-518.

Congress decided to legislate to preserve the passenger train because it felt that the train was necessary in order to maintain a balanced national transportation system. It was decided that a semi-public agency would be given the responsibility of running the passenger train networks.

Involved in reaching this decision were many organizations, five of which contributed more to the legislation than others did.

The National Association of Railroad Passengers is a non-profit organization for the preservation of the passenger train. Its role was convincing Congress of the need for action to save the passenger train. NARP also urged a larger network of passenger trains than the Secretary of Transportation proposed.

The Interstate Commerce Commission was responsible for administration of the only major national railroad policy between 1958 and 1970. Section 13a of the Interstate Commerce Act gave to the ICC the responsibility of determining whether or not a carrier could discontinue a train.

The AAR, Association of American Railroads, initially demanded a federal subsidy for railroads, because it felt that the railroad should not be made to pay for unprofitable trains it was forced to operate. The AAR later became a supporter of the Amtrak legislation, and did much to help organize the National Railroad Passenger Corporation.

The Railway Labor Executives' Association, RLEA, a formal organization composed of chief executives of rail unions, did much work to assure the passage of PL 91-518. It appeared before many Congressional committees and testi­fied on the benefits of the bill. After the certification of the employee provisions, however, many of RLEA's members began protesting. The RLEA disagreed with Secretary of Transportation Volpe's basic system. Many more routes were needed, said RLEA.

It was the task of the Department of Transportation to design the basic system, and revise it after reading the comments and recommendations of Congress, the ICC, labor representatives, and NARP. The DOT has been primarily concerned with defending its final basic network.

The interplay and conflict between these several public and private agencies led to the enactment of PL 91-518, which established the National Railroad Passenger Corporation.

Degree Name

Public Administration

Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Public Administration

First Committee Member (Chair)

John Mace Hunger

Second Committee Member

Daniel U. Henning

Third Committee Member

David R. Jones



Document Type