Historian Robert White writing an opinion piece in The New York Times.
From the 19th century on, popular resentment mounted, often focused on the commuter rail. Danger and bad service caused passengers to flee to automobiles and, later, airlines whenever they could.
Railroads lost money by carrying people, but they could not simply cease to run passenger trains. Both their charters and laws required them to do so. Amtrak, which was started in 1971, was a blessing to them. They could keep the lucrative freight and ditch the costly passengers.
The government created Amtrak to salvage a failing passenger rail system, but in detaching passenger traffic from freight traffic it created a monster that had to seek its lifeblood elsewhere. Freight traffic sustains railroads. Amtrak became a kind of corporate vampire. It has to feed on subsidies because it lacks the most lucrative part of rail transportation. When they divided the ledgers Amtrak got the red ink; the private rail lines got the black ink.
His book is probably interesting.