Sir - I was interested to read the letter from Christophe Boisseau about mixed passenger and freight traffic (RG 6.01 p382). However, I expected a more detailed exposition of Amtrak’s experience with non-passenger operations. Amtrak has been handling small, time-sensitive freight on much of its passenger network for several years, often with many vehicles per train. It is now starting an experimental service for perishable foods using refrigerated wagons.

It seems to me that European railways could easily adopt similar techniques, especially since they have attached wagons carrying motor cars to passenger trains for many years. But I was especially intrigued by the suggestion for an all-cargo TGV. Why not? After all, there are already TGV postal trains.

Ironically, despite the success of its non-passenger business, the latest figures indicate that Amtrak remains in financial hot water. US politicians will soon have to decide whether to bite the bullet and continue subsidising Amtrak - along with virtually every other country with a passenger railway - or wind it up and just continue with a few regional routes.Julian Wolinsky

Los Angeles, California, USA