Viv U subsid riding rails

Subsid Connex Rail makes pitch to take over Amtrak's duties

Universal didn’t release “The Train,” “The Great Train Robbery” or “Runaway Train,” but it’s looking for the inside track to release Amtrak from running the nation’s railroads.

A subsidiary of Vivendi Universal called Connex Rail is making a pitch to take over Amtrak’s duties, according to the Amtrak Reform Council. The oversight body is urging Congress to let private companies run trains while a successor to Amtrak merely owns the rails. Its final report is due Feb. 7.

The Reform Council is making its recommendations in response to the financial shortcomings of Amtrak, which has not made a profit since it was founded in May 1971.

Five companies, including Connex, have expressed interest in a train franchise, according to the Reform Council. Its Web site says Connex is the “leading passenger surface transport operator in Europe.”

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