Riding that train

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As the airlines attempt to derail federal legislation on passenger rights by promising to adhere to a self-imposed honor system, Amtrak has rolled out its own passenger pledge, despite the fact that nobody has even asked for it.

Like a rock star who goes into rehab because it might lead to a few talk show gigs, Amtrak is launching a pre-emptive strike against nobody, promising the moon and the stars to any and all disenchanted air passengers who can see their way clear to riding the rails.

Employee training programs, on-board amenities and beefed up F&B are the cornerstones of the initiative. Vouchers, rather than refunds, are the carrot that Amtrak hopes will entice riders back on board.

Maybe it will work. But last time I rode Amtrak I spent five hours sitting on the restroom floor of a packed train, and I was far from alone. Once you've ridden the rails in the bathroom, all the romance seems to go out of the words "all aboard."

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