Part 1, Chapter 8 Summary
Eddie Willers apologizes to his friends in the underground cafeteria for not being there lately. He has been made Acting Vice-President of Operations, though Dagny Taggart is the one who is actually making the decisions, even as she is building the John Galt Line. Eddie describes the exhalation that he sees in Dagny because of the work she is doing. Not much has been known about the John Galt Line simply because it is a success.
Dagny, working late in New York before she returns to Colorado, notices the shadow of a man at the door of her office. She expects him to knock, but instead he jerks backward and leaves, seemingly in some battle with himself.
Rearden sells his mines to Paul Larkin in order to circumvent the Equalization of Opportunity Act. He also extends Taggart’s loans, since they are unable to make payroll. He tries to reach Wesley Mouch, but learns that Mouch has resigned from his position with Rearden and has been named the assistant coordinator of the Bureau of Economic Planning and National Resources.
The head of the Union of Locomotive Engineers informs Dagny that he will not allow any of his engineers to run an engine for her. When Dagny wants him to agree to a contract that no union member will ever be employed by Taggart Transcontinental, he balks. Dagny tells him that she will call only for volunteers. When she does, every engineer in the company volunteers to drive the locomotive over the new bridge of the John Galt Line. At a press conference, Dagny tells the reporters the profit she plans to make from her investment in the railroad, which they find shocking. She also announces that the first train will run on July 22, and she suggests that they attend with cameras...just in case the bridge that they have been predicting will collapse actually does so. She herself plans to be on the train, as does Henry Rearden. At the opening of the line, a reporter calls out to Dagny, “Who is John Galt?” Her reply is, “We are!”
The first run on the John Galt Line is a resounding success. Along the line, Dagny sees the children of Taggart workers, as well as retirees of the company, standing at every mile post. The train arrives at Wyatt Junction to a crowd of people. Ellis Wyatt invites Dagny and Rearden to spend the night at his house. In a final act of triumph, Dagny and Rearden make love.