Most of AmTrans' weekly trains travel to and from Harcourt Terminal, a heavily trafficked train station. AmTrans depends for its success on running trains in all types of weather and punctual arrivals, and is consequently planning to replace half of its current trains with bullet trains, which can operate regardless of weather conditions and which can travel at twice the speed of AmTrans' current trains.
Which of the following, if true, could present the most serious disadvantage for AmTrans in replacing its current trains with bullet trains?
A. Bullet trains would enable AmTrans to run trains in weather conditions that its current trains cannot operate in.
B. The cost of manufacturing AmTrans' current trains so that they could travel at twice the speed they currently do is expected to decline over the next several years.
C. The ability of the bullet trains to travel at twice the speed of current trains would enable AmTrans to eliminate the ticket refunds currently provided to passengers on trains more than 20 minutes late.
D. None of AmTrans' competitors that use Harcourt Terminal are considering buying bullet trains.
E. When bullet trains leave stations at high speeds, the resulting heat and friction on the tracks delays arriving trains
To tackle any "Weaken" question, we really need to analyze the conclusion
and any premises
(supporting statements). The correct answer on a "Weaken" question should always attack some kind of gap between these.Conclusion:
AmTrans should replace its current trains with bullet trains.
Notice that the passage itself does not say this directly, but according to the question prompt this statement is the "conclusion" we are trying to weaken.Premises:
AmTrans business success relies on (1) running trains in any weather and (2) running trains on time. The bullet trains (1) run in any weather and (2) travel twice as fast as the current trains.
Notice the very
subtle disconnect here. The business plan requires that the trains be on time. The bullet trains travel at higher speeds. Of course, we naturally think "faster trains ==> more likely to be on time" but equating these two ideas is an assumption
! That leaves us a little room to weaken this argument.
Only answer choice (E) correctly attacks this gap in the argument. Sure, it's great that the trains are faster, but if each departure of a bullet train causes another train to be delayed, we're no longer running a punctual train line!
Mark Sullivan | Manhattan GMAT Instructor | Seattle, WA
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