Do you remember “The Nancy Hanks?” The Nancy Hanks was an intrastate passenger train owned by the Central of Georgia Railroad that used to run between Atlanta and Savannah with a stop in Macon. It was named for a race horse which had been named for Abraham Lincoln’s mother. The train left Savannah at seven o’clock each morning for the six-hour run to Atlanta and made the return trip at six o’clock each night.
The “Nancy” had four passenger cars and a grill for lunch. Until the 1960s it was segregated. It was the last passenger train to integrate because the owners felt that they were immune from federal law because the train was intrastate. It never crossed the state line and thus only had to comply with Georgia law.
The Nancy Hanks had two lives. The first train, pulled by a steam engine, ran for only two years shortly after the end of the War Between the States. The second train, which was officially called, “The Nancy Hanks II,” made her first trip on July 17, 1947. The train’s cars were painted blue and grey and, like the first Nancy, each bore a likeness of the famous horse on the side.
The last trip made by the train was on April 30, 1971, the day before the national rail service, Amtrak started service. Due to the speed and comfort of bus and air transportation, Amtrak has never earned a profit, being subsidized annually by the American taxpayers. Amtrak has never offered an Atlanta to Savannah route.
So, why should we remember “The Nancy Hanks?” That is because our political leaders are ignoring her. You see, the politicians are spending millions of dollars to study and plan new rail passenger services between Georgia cities. Never mind that the best estimates show that such services will never break even and the taxpayers will have to bail them out every year they operate. Look at Atlanta’s current rail service, MARTA. It costs all Georgians millions of dollars to operate even though only a small part of our population ever rides it.
Oh, I have read all the arguments in favor of building these lines. They probably would reduce the number of cars on the freeways around Atlanta. They might even reduce the level of air pollution. But I do not believe that the benefit they would bring the people of Atlanta is worth what it will cost all Georgians in new taxes.
If the planners can find a way for these proposed rail passenger services to pay for themselves, then I say “build them!” But if a major portion of the state’s people will have to pay for a service they will never use, then I have to object.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His website can be accessed at http://www.frankgillispie.com/gillispieonline.
I remember the Nancy Hanks; I also remember the Southern Crescent. So many legendary, storied rail routes that faded away thanks to that boondoggle known as Amtrak. And these are the people (government bureaucrats) to which people keep giving away more and more of their personal freedom, choice and power?
"Look at Atlanta’s current rail service, MARTA. It costs all Georgians millions of dollars to operate even though only a small part of our population ever rides it."
All Georgians? Check your facts. MARTA remains one of very few transit systems in the country that is funded completely by the city it serves - MARTA receives no tax money from the state.
You talk about Amtrak like it is really some sort of drain on our government's pocketbook. It isn't. Less than a penny's worth of your federal tax dollars goes to Amtrak annually, along with a multitude of other programs you have no clue about.
Railroad per MC
05/09/11 at 08:20 AM
The past L&N Hummingbird paasenger train and others taught the railroad company that freight does not complain, freight does not require as much labor to keep rail cars clean and all. Passengers actually became a nuisance. I no longer travel by plane due to passengers and declining air carriers. You say passenger complaints what ? Look at 50% of people in USA pay no taxes. I have to pay their way. Here in MC as in other places people have gamed the system like conservation tax which I hear more and more about and State of Georgia will address that as MC BOC/BOA will not just like other counties. SO TRAINS : NO NO NO NO to them as way of passenger travel unless we can keep off people who do pay their way or they are not subsidized by GOVT.