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May 21, 1976 - Image 4

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1976-05-21

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The Michigan Daily
Edited and managed by Students at the
University af Michigan
Friday, May 21, 1976
News Phone: 764-0552
Support DNA research
3 VE DAILY recommends that the Regents today ap-
prove plans to carry out recombinant DNA research
at the University.
The DNA issue is profoundly difficult for non-spe-
cialists to understand, and thus any such recommenda-
tion as ours is made with the greatest reluctance.
Few of us at the Daily have remarkable background
in the sciences; few undergraduates at all have suffic-
ient background to discuss intelligently the factors which
are involved in such an intricate decision as the one the
Regents will attempt to make today. Our position is thus
taken on the basis of comments heard by the Regents at
their informational sessions and upon certain philo-
sophical stands concerning research which we hold our-
selves.
First, it should be clear to all that the months of
deliberations concerning DNA research undertaken by
the faculty committees appointed by the Regents have
resulted in a substantial, thorough consideration of the
issue. Besides our own experts in the field of genetics,
experts from across the country have been consulted
and their recommendations fully considered. The pro-
posal to continue DNA research has not been made
hastily,
Recomoent-tions from consultants have been given
substantial weioht Some geneticists supported DNA re-
search in theory hot recommended that weaker strains
of the exnerimpn organisms be developed so, in the
unlikely event of their eseane from laboratories, they
would not sitrvive Several levels of containment of the
orvanisms would be strictly enforced, and researchers
promise that the whole process will be conducted "un-
der a vellow light"
The critics who arene that research should not be
undertaken at all cots, simply for its own sake, should
be taken serionsIv. We agree with them. However, the
recommendations of researchers have not been made
in an uninformed frenzv. The University possesses some
of the top minds in the field who would be unlikely to
ignore the intetligent restrictions placed upon them, re-
strictions which in some cases they placed upon them-
selves.
We wish we possessed specialists' knowledge on the
issue. Since we do not, we bow to the advice of the ex-
perts, looking forward to the benefits cited by all, and
urging caution every step of the way.

Amtrak: Trying to recall
the Golden Age of rails

By MICHAEL BLUMFIELD
ONCE THE SUBJECT of a plethora of roman-
tic songs, films, and mystery novels, the
passenger train has taken a back seat to autos
and airplanes as America's prime means of long-
distance transportation. Yet Amtrak seems to
think that with the introduction of its new lux-
urious Amfleet it can change that trend.
A ride on the spacious and smooth cars can
convince even the most snobbish jet-setter that
trains do have the potential to be a worthwhile
form of getting from one place to another. The
streamlined stainless - steel vehicles offer the
luxury of a well - appointed aircraft (in fact, the
interior resembles that of a modern jet) plus
more room.
BUT THE aspect that Amtrak's public rela-
tions staff likes to emphasize about trains is the
personal angle a train ride lends. It's the only
form of transportation, besides a cruise, which
allows one to know a stranger fairly well during
the journey. Overnight trains are especially con-
ducive to this, they say. The way an old conduct-
or uses the newly-installed public address sys-
tem to announce arrivals along with "Thank you
for going Amtrak" - the familiar airline phrase
- emphasizes the point. The old codger's grav-
elly voice is infinitely more amusing than the
refined sing-song tone of an airline stewardess.
For the average traveller pulling into a strange
city, the serenity of the train is interrupted by
the stark presence of a dilapidated station. De-
troit's terminal features flaking walls, chipped
and shattered glass, and stench-filled bathrooms,
all in an area where you're bound to be ap-
proached by at least a wino or two before you
reach a bus stop and where the grocery stores
perform their transactions through bullet-proof
glass. And that's better than it was a year ago
when passengers had to wade through an inch
of water, leaked from the roof, on their way
out of the station.
WHAT REMAINS to be seen is how Amtrak
can encourage improvement of the track they
run on since they own very few segments of it.
Most remains in the hands of private businesses
which have no interest in catering to the needs
of passenger trains. For example, to run their
new equipment at the 120 m.p.h. speed of which
they're capable would require banked curves and
vastly improved tracks. The businesspeople who
own the slow-moving freights are content with
flat curves and run-down tracks.
Another example of the sort of conditions
plaguing Amtrak is the case of the town of
Michigan City, Indiana, where Amtrak is legal-
ly restricted from traveling above 25 m.p.h.
Seems that townsfolk have been playing "chick-
en" with the train and losing so often that they

passed the law - after a train plowed into th
car of the mayor's son. Now patrol cars drive
alongside the train, timing is as it passes through
town; the citizens now have a better chance it
"chicken". Amtrak is taking the town's injunc
tion to court.
This month marked Amtrak's fifth year after
being created by Congress with the help of 9M
million dollars in federally - guaranteed loans,
The company inherited a wealth of problems
that were the result of 25 years of neglect on
the part of rail companies whose business had
been declining at the rate of 15 per cent per
year. Post-war emphasis on air and auto travel,
spurred by federal subsidies of the airlines and
massive highway construction, contributed large.
ly to the decline.
BUT THE ENERGY crisis of 1973 helped pro.
vide the struggling company with enough busi.
ness and national attention to increase funds tI
the point that a year later the first order for
new equipment could be placed. At last the an.
cient vehicles were replaced, and with the intro
duction of the celebrated French turbine loco-
motives, American passenger trains enter
ed the modern era.
Business has improved every year - on tht
Detroit-Chicago route the ridership has increase
by 72 per cent. Three million dollars has beet
spent by Amtrak on the tracks between the ts
cities, and over $15 million was spent on the Bcs
ton-New York route in 1975. Meanwhile, let
densely - populated areas continue to settle f;
poor tracks.
Stations have been renovated in many citiec
and others - small by comparisan to the te,
minals of yesteryear - have been constructed
Doing their part to draw business, some citi
have set aside funds to improve station site
State and federal funds have been increased
well.
WHAT THE future holds, not even Amtrak o
ficials are willing to speculate upon. Most likee
the "golden age" of railroading, with its glamor
ous, enormous downtown stations and the nation
al dependence on trains, will never return. TIT
changing urban scene and the prevalence of ai
and car usage have spelled its death.
Yet the railroad can still serve some fasr
tions of inter-city travel better than any oth
means. The problem Amtrak faces are massie
many routes have not been as successful as
lDetroit-Chicago run. But with the continued s:s
port of go-ernment, the comforting sound
the passenger train's horn may sound thrsst
otet the nation's night for years to come.
Michael lenifield, a Daily s/aff wri/er,
aboard Ainflct/s first De/roit-Chicago reese
Mag 15.

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