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  #21  
Old Posted Aug 3, 2012, 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
Does it really cost $3.40 for a can of soda? How can it possibly cost so much, if Amtrak is buying in bulk? I smell BS.
Its like 2.00$ for a bottle....1.75$ for a can....varies route to route and they run out very fast on some routes..
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  #22  
Old Posted Aug 3, 2012, 10:29 PM
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Does it really cost $3.40 for a can of soda? How can it possibly cost so much, if Amtrak is buying in bulk? I smell BS.
The $3.40 is the loaded cost of selling the can of soda: service attendant, inventory stocking & tracking, management overhead, all the embedded cost to run the café and diner cars, material losses, etc. The cost of buying the soda cans in bulk is a small part of the cost to stock and sell the soda cans.

As the excerpt states, Amtrak is improving the cost recovery for food and beverage sales. But very difficult to get to break even across all the trains. According to multiple posts I've seen, back in the hey day of passenger service on private railroads, food and diner service almost always lost money. I suspect the airlines don't make any money, even today with all the fees they charge, on food & beverage sales on the airplanes. Just the reality of suppling food and beverage options in transportation.
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  #23  
Old Posted Aug 5, 2012, 5:21 PM
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Amtrak Shifts Strategy From Begging for Money to Thinking Big


Jul 31, 2012

By Jeff Plungis

Read More: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-0...nking-big.html

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.....

Amtrak, which got a $1.4 billion federal subsidy this year and needs congressional reauthorization to continue operations past September 2013, has decided it’s better to be ambitious than to continually beg for enough money to keep trains rolling.

- For detractors like the Heritage Foundation’s Emily Goff, Amtrak’s proposal, building on a structure that requires government subsidies, amounts to throwing good money after bad. “I don’t think it’s realistic to expect taxpayers to be willing to keep funding these programs, when Amtrak serves such a small sliver of the traveling public,” Goff said. A better solution would open up Amtrak routes to competitive bidding to lower costs, Goff said.

- The Northeast Corridor is the only place Amtrak gets enough revenue to cover its operating costs. In its plan to upgrade the corridor, Amtrak said ridership may grow to 43.5 million people annually with ticket revenue of $4.86 billion by 2040 -- roughly four times last year’s ridership and about five times the ticket sales of $983.5 million. “The plan is completely unrealistic and Amtrak wasted its money developing it,” said Randal O’Toole, a researcher with the Cato Institute, which advocates for free markets and limited government. “There is no way that Amtrak can get the private sector to fund more than a trivial amount.”

- House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica has called for greater private-sector investment in passenger rail projects and private competition for rail service, to the point he briefly proposed a bill last year to remove Amtrak from managing the Northeast Corridor. The Florida Republican, who has described Amtrak’s operations as “Soviet style,” has scheduled an Aug. 2 hearing on its losses running food and beverage services. Funding for the railroad has varied. The House passed an appropriations bill for fiscal 2013 with $1.8 billion, which is more than this year’s $1.4 billion and less than the $2.5 billion sought in Obama’s budget. Only about a third of Amtrak’s U.S. support goes for operations; this year, it got $466 million for operations and $952 million for capital and debt service.

- If Amtrak were an airline, it would be able to charge its passengers a separate fee to finance construction projects. That’s not built into U.S. rail law, said Ross Capon, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Railroad Passengers. Amtrak may already be charging what the market will bear for tickets, he said. Amtrak’s ambitious proposals may be a smart way to attract investors, said Robert Puentes, an expert in infrastructure financing at the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based research organization. Sovereign wealth funds are increasingly looking for ways to invest in U.S. transportation projects, he said, citing a $2 billion infusion from China into a California project. “There’s going to be a big conversation about Amtrak next year,” Puentes said. “ There’s an aspirational piece to this. They need to think about the future, about what passenger rail is going to look like in this country.”

.....
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  #24  
Old Posted Aug 18, 2012, 7:20 PM
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Frustrations of Air Travel Push Passengers to Amtrak


August 15, 2012

By RON NIXON

Read More: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/16/bu...to-amtrak.html

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.....

A decade ago, Delta and US Airways shuttles were the preferred mode of travel between the cities. But high fares, slow airport security and frequent flight delays — along with Amtrak’s high-speed Acela trains, online ticketing and workstation amenities — have eaten away at the airlines’ share of passengers.

- Between New York and Washington, Amtrak said, 75 percent of travelers go by train, a huge share that has been building steadily since the Acela was introduced in 2000 and airport security was tightened after 2001. Before that, Amtrak had just over a third of the business between New York and Washington. In the same period, Amtrak said, its market share between New York and Boston grew to 54 percent from 20 percent.

- Nationally, Amtrak ridership is at a record 30 million people; the Northeast accounts for more than a third of that and is virtually the only portion of Amtrak’s system that makes money. “On the train, you’ve got power outlets and Wi-Fi, you can talk on the phone — it’s usable time,” said George Hamlin, an aviation writer and airline consultant who frequently rides Amtrak between Washington and New York. “Even I’m guilty of it,” he said of taking the train. By 2040, given the trends, Amtrak said traffic in the corridor could reach 43.5 million passengers, almost four times the level today.

.....



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  #25  
Old Posted Aug 18, 2012, 7:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Nexis4Jersey View Post
Your right , most Americans don't care about HSR. Most advocates in the Northeast and other regions want other services expanded or enhanced before HSR. I think if we expanded the regular Regional commuter Rail systems to serve every part of each state in the Northeast or Midwest people would jump on board the HSR wagon , but that's not the case.
Perhaps it's not the case because there is MORE to the U.S. than the Northeast & Midwest? We are hungry for much more service in the Southeast too.
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  #26  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2012, 8:24 PM
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After 35-year hiatus, passenger rail returns to Norfolk


August 30, 2012

By Ashley Halsey III

Read More: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/...3a7_story.html

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Thirty-five years after the last train left the station in Norfolk, passenger rail service will return to Virginia’s second largest city in December, linking it to Washington and the rest of Amtrak’s northeast corridor. Reconnecting Norfolk and its larger adjacent neighbor, Virginia Beach, to the passenger rail grid has been in the works for a while, but on Thursday, elected officials and Amtrak announced the service would begin Dec. 12.

Trains will run seven days a week, providing the increasing number of Washingtonians who don’t own cars with another way to (almost) reach the beach next summer. A one-way ticket for the almost five-hour rail ride will cost $38, Amtrak said. “It takes cars off the highways, helping ease congestion on already highly-traveled roads,” said Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R). “The new station [in Norfolk] provides a one-seat ride to Richmond, Washington and major cities along the northeast corridor, offering an economical and environmentally friendly way to travel.”

Thelma Drake, Virginia’s director of trail and public transportation, said the commonwealth would shoulder responsibility for the cost of the Amtrak service, as it already has done for passenger service to Richmond and Lynchburg. While she wasn’t able to provide a dollar figure for the expense, Drake said that ticket sales have covered the cost of service to the other cities and that “our ridership projections do have our Norfolk train in the black.” She said Virginia’s overall passenger rail expense will be reevaluated in October 2013, when new federal guidelines will require that the state take additional responsibility for the cost.

.....


Rendering of the design for the Amtrak station at Harbor Park.

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  #27  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2012, 9:51 PM
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So the new Norfolk station isn't in downtown Norfolk? This looks like a park&ride.
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  #28  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2012, 10:48 PM
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I think the intention is to have a transfer to The Tide light rail system. It's tough to get Amtrak into downtown Norfolk when there aren't any rail lines that run near the downtown. Most of the parking around the transfer point belongs to the stadium, although some parking is reserved for transit riders.
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  #29  
Old Posted Sep 11, 2012, 10:18 PM
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Amtrak on track to set rider record


9/10/12

By KATHRYN A. WOLFE

Read More: http://www.politico.com/news/stories...15.html?hp=r11

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Amtrak is riding the wave of ridership records, but the national passenger railroad will most likely get the wind knocked out of it when its brass appears before a House hearing Tuesday. It will be the second in a series of hearings in what House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) told POLITICO is his “holy jihad to try to get Amtrak’s operations under control.”

The hearing will drill down into how Amtrak competes for commuter rail contracts in what likely will be an uncomfortable examination for the passenger railroad. A briefing document prepared by the committee posits that as providing commuter rail services has grown increasingly competitive, Amtrak has fared increasingly poorly in those competitions because of “Amtrak’s inability to adapt its nationwide model for intercity passenger rail to regional commuter rail markets.”

The document also notes that Amtrak hasn’t won the right to provide new commuter rail services in 10 years. The day before the committee looks at what has been called Amtrak’s “monopoly mentality,” the railroad got some good news: Amtrak announced that it’s on track to break yet another ridership record this fiscal year. The railroad expects after September to break last year’s record-setting 30.2 million passengers.

.....



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  #30  
Old Posted Oct 23, 2012, 11:09 PM
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Loss of Southwest Chief would be blow to seniors

Read More: http://www.santafenewmexican.com/loc...traksidebar-hh

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Amtrak could stop serving passengers traveling from Newton, Kan., to Albuquerque if New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas can’t help the financially strapped railroad company come up with funding to repair the track. That would cut the only passenger rail service through the New Mexico towns of Raton, Las Vegas and Lamy (which has access to Santa Fe).

- Rerouting the train would make it tough on older passengers like June King of Las Vegas, N.M., who has used the train to travel between Las Vegas and Kansas City, Mo. Greyhound no longer stops in her city, and the Las Vegas Municipal Airport is small and has no commercial airlines. That leaves the train for public transportation. “A train has gone through Las Vegas for 100 years,” she said. “To now not have a train from Kansas City to Albuquerque would be awful. It is a wonderful way to travel. You can get up and walk around, not like on a bus or an airplane. And the seats have leg room. You can really stretch out.”

- More than 122,000 New Mexicans and 12,000 Santa Fe passengers take the Southwest Chief line through New Mexico each year, with a Lamy stop-off. Amtrak said 69 percent of the passengers on the line this year alone have been older than 55 years of age. The train is an important mode of transportation for middle-aged and elderly people, said Beth Velasquez, interim director of AARP New Mexico. “AARP nationally is supporting continued funding for Amtrak. AARP has always been a strong supporter of public transportation,” she said. “A lot of people use the train to connect with more rural communities. We look at it as a vital part of public transportation.”

- Amtrak has told New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas that it needs $100 million in the next 10 years to repair the track and maintain it to passenger train standards. Department of Transportation officials in the three states told Amtrak in July that as much as they appreciate the passenger train, they don’t have the money to help. Congress is in the midst of debating the national passenger train’s fate. For years, some congressmen have pushed to privatize the company, which receives millions in taxpayer funds every year. (Amtrak receives about $1.6 billion a year compared to $43 billion for highways and $16 billion for airports.) New Mexico’s delegates advocate continued federal funding for Amtrak.

- Amtrak said the states have until the end of 2014 to make a decision about funding. Without the funding, Amtrak would look to reroute the Southwest Chief by 2016. “We don’t want to do that. We want to continue to serve Albuquerque on the route we are using now,” said Marc Magliari, an Amtrak media relations manager. “We are looking at options.” If the reroute does happen, Amtrak would continue to serve the Albuquerque area through a Southern New Mexico route, Magliari said. But north-central and northeastern New Mexico, along with southern Colorado and western Kansas, could lose their only passenger train route. Santa Fe city councilors and Santa Fe County commissioners have approved resolutions supporting a continued Amtrak line through Lamy.

.....
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  #31  
Old Posted Nov 3, 2012, 2:18 AM
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Downeaster arrives in Brunswick

Read More: http://www.onlinesentinel.com/news/d...brunswick.html

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.....

U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree rode the train and spoke at the Freeport and Brunswick stops. Also on board were U.S. Senate candidate and former Gov. Angus King and Wayne Davis, a retired banker from Topsham who led the grass-roots campaign to revive passenger rail service in Maine. Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo had planned to attend, but was in Washington because of recovery efforts with Superstorm Sandy.

- The expansion of the Boston-to-Portland service to Freeport and Brunswick fulfills the original vision of the passenger rail service launched in 2001. Photos posted this morning by Twitter users in Boston showed people in “Maine” sweatshirts celebrating the launch of the service, and there were celebrations at each station stop along the way. The expansion was made possible through $38.3 million in federal stimulus dollars, which was used to overhaul 30 miles of track and rehabilitate 36 crossings between Portland and Brunswick. The state also spent a half-million dollars to install train platforms in Brunswick and Freeport.

.....
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  #32  
Old Posted Nov 3, 2012, 7:59 PM
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Now we need an Extension and Electrification up to Augusta and Bangor along with a better station in Portland.
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  #33  
Old Posted Nov 4, 2012, 4:32 AM
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Now we need an Extension and Electrification up to Augusta and Bangor along with a better station in Portland.
I understand a desire to extend the line to Augusta and Bangor, but why include electrification? Three train sets making two round trips a day over single track isn't busy enough to make electrification cost effective.
Downeaster service should increase to the point that double tracking is required throughout the entire corridor before anyone should consider electrifying that rail line.

Last edited by electricron; Nov 4, 2012 at 3:45 PM.
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  #34  
Old Posted Nov 4, 2012, 7:05 AM
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I understand a desire to extend the line to Augusta and Bangor, but why include electrification? Three train sets making two round trips a day over single track isn't busy enough to make electrification cost effective.
Downeaster service should increase to the point that double tracking is required before anyone should consider electrifying that rail line.
All New England Routes will be electrified down the road...and round trips increased to 12 a day... The line will most likely be double tracked at least up to the Maine border to support future New Hampshire Regional Rail. In Maine you just need more sidlings unless they were to go with thier proposed Regional Rail Network around Portland which requires Double tracking.
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  #35  
Old Posted Nov 4, 2012, 3:49 PM
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All New England Routes will be electrified down the road...and round trips increased to 12 a day... The line will most likely be double tracked at least up to the Maine border to support future New Hampshire Regional Rail. In Maine you just need more sidlings unless they were to go with thier proposed Regional Rail Network around Portland which requires Double tracking.
12 round trips is like one train an hour. Single track can handle that. Headways will have to decrease to less than 20 minutes (three round trips per hour) before double tracking is required, At three round trips an hour, that's more than 36 round trips per day (assuming train operations last longer than 12 hours).

I'm sorry, but I don't believe 12 round trips a day isn't, by a third, enough traffic to warrant electrifying the corridor.
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  #36  
Old Posted Nov 4, 2012, 7:57 PM
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12 round trips is like one train an hour. Single track can handle that. Headways will have to decrease to less than 20 minutes (three round trips per hour) before double tracking is required, At three round trips an hour, that's more than 36 round trips per day (assuming train operations last longer than 12 hours).

I'm sorry, but I don't believe 12 round trips a day isn't, by a third, enough traffic to warrant electrifying the corridor.
Your right 12 trips isn't but most of the corridor is shared with commuter rail traffic up to 70 trips a day in MA , and down the road up to 45 in NH and maybe Portland's Regional rail system so that warrants electrification. There also seems to be a push to build the North - South Tunnel which means full or half Electrification of the MBTA network and the Downeaster would likely be replaced with the Regional.
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  #37  
Old Posted Nov 14, 2012, 7:16 PM
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PennDOT, Amtrak to Partner on ‘PA Trips By Train’ Initiative

Read More: http://norristown.patch.com/articles...ain-initiative

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The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is partnering with Amtrak on "PA Trips By Train," an initiative designed to increase interest in the Keystone train service between Harrisburg and Philadelphia, and to promote an alternate travel option for visiting popular events and destinations.

- As part of the excursions packages, customers can purchase discounted train tickets from Amtrak and receive a pass for transportation from the train station to the excursion destination. The initiative begins this month with an overnight excursion to Christmas in Hershey, with Hershey providing ground transportation to and from the Elizabethtown train station. Planned future packages include trips to the Pennsylvania Farm Show, the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, the Franklin Institute, Historic Philadelphia and the International Philadelphia Flower Show.

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  #38  
Old Posted Nov 19, 2012, 9:55 PM
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As late as 1959, per the World Almanac, the US ran over 450,000,000 rail passenger riders per year. Since the US had about 165 million people at the time- about half what the US has in 2013, adjusting that figure to the current population of the US, gives a population adjusted figure of 900,000,000.

This puts Amtrak's 35 million passenger riders per year into that perspective.


Consider first available rail cars: Amtrak has only 130 long distance train cars ordered. Assumming each of these new cars carried 100 people per day (and that no older cars were retired), 365 days per year, these cars would add about 4.75 million riders per YEAR,

Consider, too, what Amtrak has been saying the last 3 or 4 years ago how much government money would be needed to develope additional lines. Figures in the multiple 10s of millions per mile.

So what is the smarteset short term solution?

Do not add significant new routes to the system, but double the density of coverage per existing route

I live in metro Denver. Here, we have lost the future opportunity to connect via existing freight lines south of Lodo due to terrible long term planning. Fixing the issue, caused by recent, near sighted greed, would take billions of dollars.

So, we should forget south bound connections, and, run 2 Amtrak Zephyrs through Denver per day. Run them 6 to 12 hours apart. No track improvements needed. The convenience of Amtrak in Denver would increase as the square of the number of trains.

As running 2 trains per day along a 3 day route (averaged upward) would double the number of cars, we might be dealing with an adddition 35 - 40 cars, and, 4-5 locomotives (spares) for a cost of perhaps $100 million on passenger cars and $30 million for locomotives.

So, for long distance trains, we might be able to ball park this figure at $130 million or so per route (not including hiring and training of personnel).

On the 4 east/west routes that run from New Orleans-LA, Chicago-LA, Chicago-Oakland, Chicago-Seattle/Portland we are talking about capitol expenses on equipment of about $550 million.

There are other advantages in 'doubling' up. A huge advantage as that each train does not have to follow the same route over the entire distance. A second Empire Builder might always go to Portland via Spokane. A second Cresent might extend to LA along the route of the Southest limited or a portion thereof. A second Southwest Chief might connect through KC to St. Louis, This could be done WITHOUT TRAINS HAVING TO WAIT TO BE RE-ASSEMBLED MID-ROUTE, a problem that doomed splitting trains in early Amtrak days.

There is a huge political benefit to this, too. Seeing multiple frequencies on long distance runs would stimulate, IMO, local political interest. For example, two trains per day between San Antonio and Oklahoma City might encourage one the trains extending to Newton, KS, where the extended train might meet- with smaller delays- one of two Southwest Limiteds.

So, IMO, the best way to get Amtrak to keep growing would be to order 1000 or so passenger cars and 150 locomotives on top of existing orders, and, double longer distance frequencies. This would be 3.5 to 4 billion capital expense spread over 3 to 4 years, possibly financed- in this era of low interest rates- via federally backed bonds.

Then, the network expansion, IMO, would follow rapidly.
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  #39  
Old Posted Nov 19, 2012, 10:08 PM
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Although I don’t have time at the moment to look up anything exact, in the 1970s Amtrak did try the whole multiple-trains-per-day strategy on existing long distance lines it got them nowhere—costs grew quicker than ridership. The travel times for rail along those corridors is simply not competitive, and increased frequency does not make up for the fact that a plane will be quicker. Any Amtrak reorganization will mean either getting rid of long-distance trains or having passengers pay luxury cruise prices for them (there might be a niche for a few overnight services for passengers who prefer sleeping in transit to plane + hotel, but overnight trains are still fairly expensive to run).

There’s also an opportunity cost with running more trains along existing Amtrak long-distance routes—a fast train takes up line capacity that can be used by slower, more profitable freights.
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  #40  
Old Posted Nov 20, 2012, 3:03 AM
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Although I don’t have time at the moment to look up anything exact, in the 1970s Amtrak did try the whole multiple-trains-per-day strategy on existing long distance lines it got them nowhere—costs grew quicker than ridership. The travel times for rail along those corridors is simply not competitive, and increased frequency does not make up for the fact that a plane will be quicker. Any Amtrak reorganization will mean either getting rid of long-distance trains or having passengers pay luxury cruise prices for them (there might be a niche for a few overnight services for passengers who prefer sleeping in transit to plane + hotel, but overnight trains are still fairly expensive to run).

There’s also an opportunity cost with running more trains along existing Amtrak long-distance routes—a fast train takes up line capacity that can be used by slower, more profitable freights.
The only place where long distance trains seems to be viable is out west. Those trains, particularly the Empire Builder, are destinations in and of themselves. You arrive in Chicago and depart from Seattle a couple of days later. You basically spend the entire time on board a train taking in some of the scenery along the way. I believe traffic on the Empire Builder has increased rather sharply if I'm not mistaken...

I think other notable trains are the California Zephyr and Southwest Chief, which take you through the Moffat Tunnel and through Loveland Pass, which also can be quite scenic...

But yeah, pax traffic might be increasing along these corridors, but they surely as heck do not warrant multiple trains. I think the overnight trains out east need to be revamped somewhat. I believe those are the big money losers for Amtrak, especially the Silver Meteor IMO. You have that running along with the NE Regional and Acela service. Altho, in other parts of the region, you do have the long-distance trains serving some sort of connection purpose between smaller towns to the larger cities (altho, how many people actually board those trains?)...
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