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Amtrak ridership and revenue up, but operating losses continue

Consumer Reports News: June 02, 2011 09:08 AM

Over the past 18 months, the number of people traveling by Amtrak train has increased. Yet the company says that it’s experiencing financial losses. Amtrak blamed the rising cost of fuel and materials, plus money-losing long-distance routes and compensation of union workers.

For the fiscal year ending in September, Amtrak projected an operating loss of more than $500 million, reported the Wall Street Journal. At a Capital Hill hearing last week, Amtrak declared all of the long-distance train routes “unprofitable.”

Amtrak is making money, however, on its service along the Northeast Corridor. Many commuters regularly rely on those routes. The Acela Express between Boston and Washington D.C. is heavily used, and is actually the fastest passenger rail in the United States.

High speed rail is Amtrak's selling point as they lobby the government for more money. Earlier this month, federal dollars were awarded to the production of more trains like the Acela. Transportation Secretary Raymond LaHood announced in mid May that just over $2 billion would be set aside for high-speed intercity train routes in locations across the country.

Check out other recent reports about how the federal government moves to invest in high-speed passenger train travel. More about plans to speed up train travel in the U.S. can be found here: Federal funds boost high-speed rail hopes.

Amtrak Chugs Deeper Into the Red [Wall Street Journal]

Maggie Shader

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