Why are Amtrak trains so slow?

Looking at the legal and operational framework

Amtrak trains usually operate at about 2/3 of the technically possible speed on curvy track, and could operate at about 1/2 of the technically possible speed on really steep curvy mountain routes. This result is rather easy to compute, and easy to state as a fact. Unfortunately, finding the reason is far more complicated, because there isn't a single one. There are multiple reasons, and interdependencies between them. The most important points are:

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