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Continuing Effect Of Airline Struggles On Amtrak?  
User currently offlineSoxfan From United States of America, joined Mar 2008, 864 posts, RR: 0
Posted (5 years 10 months 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 3865 times:

Hi Everyone,

I know there was a thread about airline struggles and its effect on Amtrak in April:

http://www.airliners.net/aviation-fo...earchid=3960496&s=amtrak#ID3960496

My question is, six months later, do you think the increased fees by airlines (i.e. checked baggage, etc.) are continuing to drive passengers to choose to take the train? To narrow the discussion from the previous thread, I'd like to focus on the Northeast Corridor if at all possible, which is basically from Boston to New York to Washington and most places in between served by the Amtrak Regional and Acela Express. A friend recently did a search and found, for the end of October, a one-way ticket on US Airways BOS-PHL was about $600 per person, while much cheaper on the Acela. While it may seem like flying is faster, at least in this case I would venture that the times are pretty similar. In flying, you need to get to the airport 1-3 hours in advance, wait in line, go through security, wait to board, etc. while you can get to the train station basically 15 minutes before departure (and no charge for baggage). Then, in PHL, since the airport is not really in the middle of the city, you need to take a cab to get from the airport, while the train is much closer. So, while this is just one example, do you think trains along the Northeast Corridor are becoming, and will continue to become, more crowded because of more passengers turning away from the airlines?


Pilot: "Request push, which way should we face?" JFK Ground: "You better face the front, sir, or you'll scare the pax!"
23 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineCadet57 From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 9085 posts, RR: 31
Reply 1, posted (5 years 10 months 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 3858 times:

I will say that the Amtrak is still doing great. demand is up, its hard to find seats 2 months out now. Im hoping the next administration gives Amtrak more funding because trains are really the way to go for short distances.


Doors open, right hand side, next stop is Springfield.
User currently offlineCommavia From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 11418 posts, RR: 62
Reply 2, posted (5 years 10 months 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 3840 times:

Amtrak is not a meaningful competitor for airlines and not a viable means of mass transportation for the vast majority of passengers traveling by air today in the United States.

There is no market for long-distance Amtrak trains in the United States, which is why these trains continue to require massive amounts of subsidies and government funding in order to continue operating - at excessive cost to taxpayers.

The one niche where trains can be a meaningful part of an integrated national transportation infrastructure is in high-density, short-haul markets like the Northeast Corridor, the Los Angeles-Bay Area Corridor, and the Trans-Texas Corridor.

However, in those areas where reliable, high-speed trains can be efficient, effective and profitable, these things cannot happen as long as Amtrak is controlled by the government. Politicians screw up everything - everything - they touch, and Amtrak will never get the attention, investment and resources it needs if micromanaged and mismanaged by the government. After all, Amtrak still continues to contend that train travel cannot possibly be profitable without government subsidy, which is patently false.

What we could really use is an efficient high-speed train system (I'm thinking Shinkansen or TGV) with limited stops and miles and miles of well-designed, high-performance track. The first and most likely place for this to occur would naturally be the Northeast Corridor. But it will never happen as long as Amtrak is the one calling the shots. Never.


User currently offlineSoxfan From United States of America, joined Mar 2008, 864 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (5 years 10 months 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 3813 times:



Quoting Commavia (Reply 2):
What we could really use is an efficient high-speed train system (I'm thinking Shinkansen or TGV) with limited stops and miles and miles of well-designed, high-performance track. The first and most likely place for this to occur would naturally be the Northeast Corridor. But it will never happen as long as Amtrak is the one calling the shots. Never.

It's not necessarily Amtrak's fault. I believe some of the overheard electrical systems were constructed during the Great Depression which means that they can't handle the highest speeds of trains. Also, the NE corridor is not one long, straight stretch; the surroundings have to be taken into consideration (i.e. wildlife, houses, and rock ledges/other obstructions). I believe some work is, in fact, currently being done to make improvements.



Pilot: "Request push, which way should we face?" JFK Ground: "You better face the front, sir, or you'll scare the pax!"
User currently offlineLambert747 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (5 years 10 months 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 3786 times:



Quoting Commavia (Reply 2):
Amtrak is not a meaningful competitor for airlines and not a viable means of mass transportation for the vast majority of passengers traveling by air today in the United States

 checkmark 

There are very, very few markets in the USA for which Amtrak is a viable option over air and car travel. The following are the most popular Amtrak routes in the USA:

#1
Boston - New York - Philadelphia - Washington D.C.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northeast_Corridor

#2
San Luis Obispo-Los Angeles-San Diego
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_Surfliner
2.7 million riders per year

#3
Sacramento - Emeryville/San Francisco
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitol_Corridor
1.7 million riders per year


Price comparisson and Time comparisson for Cross Country Travel:

1 November - 10 November

Amtrak
Emeryville/San Francisco to New York/Penn Station
Time: 74 Hours, 40 Minutes - Change CHI, WAS
Coach Seat $368.00
Roomette $1730.00
Private Bedroom $4224.00

vs

United Airlines
SFO-JFK
Time: 5 Hours, 20 Minutes - NONSTOP
Economy Plus $ 369.00
Business Class $ 2613.00
First Class $ 5489.00


User currently offlineApodino From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 4234 posts, RR: 6
Reply 5, posted (5 years 10 months 15 hours ago) and read 3669 times:

I am a big Amtrak Supporter and I do think there is a need for Amtrak, but I have to agree that for most travel, there is no way that Amtrak can compete with the Airlines. There are places in this country where High Speed rail would work. (Northeast Corridor where it already works, The midwest corridor with DTW, ORD, MKE, STL and MSP, Intrastate Ohio, Intrastate FL, the Southeast area (CLT, RDU, ATL), Intrastate TX, California and LAS, Pac NW). I agree that the operations of the railroad itself should be privatized. However, there is no way any passenger railroad is going to turn a profit without government subsidies comporable to what the Airlines and Cars get. (Before I get flamed for airlines, the government pays for the new runways, the terminals, the Air Traffic Control, and all the other stuff, while railroad infastructure is generally paid for with private funds). What I would like to see would for the government to pay for the rail infastructure, (New Rail lines and signalling systems), but for private companies to actually operate the trains. This would be consistent with all other forms of transportation, and would allow anyone who wanted to compete to actually operate the trains.

User currently offlineJamesontheroad From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2005, 541 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (5 years 10 months 15 hours ago) and read 3648 times:

Let's be careful with sweeping statements here, because both the American passenger rail industry and the American airline industry rely on US Government subsidies. I've no idea what the per head figure is (and it might be misleading to quote it, since government investment in a regional airport only benefits the passengers who use it) but let's not kid ourselves that the American airline industry is a model of free market enterprise. When times are tough both airports and airlines turn to the government for help, and they usually get it much more easily than Amtrak.

Quoting Commavia (Reply 2):
However, in those areas where reliable, high-speed trains can be efficient, effective and profitable, these things cannot happen as long as Amtrak is controlled by the government.

Is that a specific criticism of the US government, or all governments?

Quoting Commavia (Reply 2):
What we could really use is an efficient high-speed train system (I'm thinking Shinkansen or TGV) with limited stops and miles and miles of well-designed, high-performance track. The first and most likely place for this to occur would naturally be the Northeast Corridor. But it will never happen as long as Amtrak is the one calling the shots. Never.

Both the TGV and Shikansen were conceived by state run railway companies. They had to be to get off the ground, although both are now run by commercially driven enterprises.

[Edited 2008-10-01 07:44:30]

User currently offlineCommavia From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 11418 posts, RR: 62
Reply 7, posted (5 years 10 months 14 hours ago) and read 3565 times:



Quoting Apodino (Reply 5):
However, there is no way any passenger railroad is going to turn a profit without government subsidies comporable to what the Airlines and Cars get.

That I disagree with.

If operated smartly, I think there is no reason why high-speed passenger rail - in certain markets that I and others have already identified - could be profitable on its own.

Quoting Apodino (Reply 5):
(Before I get flamed for airlines, the government pays for the new runways, the terminals, the Air Traffic Control, and all the other stuff, while railroad infastructure is generally paid for with private funds).

And where do you think the government gets the money to "subsidize" all those things for airlines? From the airlines themselves! (And thus from taxpayers.)

Quoting Jamesontheroad (Reply 6):
Is that a specific criticism of the US government, or all governments?

All governments, but the U.S. government most specifically since it is what we are talking about here.

Quoting Jamesontheroad (Reply 6):
Both the TGV and Shikansen were conceived by state run railway companies. They had to be to get off the ground, although both are now run by commercially driven enterprises.

True, but in the United States, I firmly believe that a profit-seeking commercial enterprise could absolutely run an economically viable high-speed rail network in certain parts of the U.S. if freed from the corruption and political manipulation of Washington.


User currently offlineSpacecadet From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 3608 posts, RR: 12
Reply 8, posted (5 years 10 months 14 hours ago) and read 3560 times:



Quoting Commavia (Reply 2):
Amtrak is not a meaningful competitor for airlines and not a viable means of mass transportation for the vast majority of passengers traveling by air today in the United States.

There is no market for long-distance Amtrak trains in the United States, which is why these trains continue to require massive amounts of subsidies and government funding in order to continue operating - at excessive cost to taxpayers.

That is completely incorrect, and I really wish neo-cons would quit rehashing the same tired talking points that have been disproven over and over with easily attainable public information.

1. The loads on Amtrak's long-haul trains are about equal to the loads on most long-haul airline routes. The majority of Amtrak's trains - both long and short-haul - are sold out on many route segments, and sometimes months in advance. There is a market.

2. The subsidies go to the infrastructure and the various deals Amtrak is required to maintain with freight railroads, the same as they do for the airlines. The only difference is the government isn't giving those subsidies directly to the airlines (oh, except for when the government bailed out the airline industry to the tune of $11 billion a few years ago), so you don't see people complaining about it. Instead, these ongoing subsidies go to the FAA and various state agencies. But they are far larger than anything Amtrak gets.

*Every* form of transportation is subsidized. Every one. Even so, you see how hard it is for airlines to make money even without infrastructure costs factored in. Amtrak, if it was not responsible for maintaining infrastructure or paying freight railroads for the use of their track, would be FAR more profitable than ANY domestic airline. The fact that they even come close to breaking even under the current system is borderline miraculous. Imagine if, say, American Airlines had to fly their planes AND pay for their own air traffic control AND pay to build and maintain their own airports (and not just the terminal). How much money do you think they'd be losing?

As for the original question of how Amtrak is doing, they continue to set ridership records. In the Northeast Corridor, I know they had 56% market share in June, and that's not going down. (This is up, btw, from 12% in 1999.) The remaining 44% is split among all the airlines. That's utter dominance. But they're basically running at capacity right now so until they get some more equipment, I'm not sure how much better they can do. Ditto on the long haul, which has been hurting for equipment literally for decades now. And as they've now proven with the Empire Builder, increasing service and amenities does lead to an increase in revenue.



I'm tired of being a wanna-be league bowler. I wanna be a league bowler!
User currently offlineBeertrucker From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 403 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (5 years 10 months 13 hours ago) and read 3532 times:

Where the train will make more of an impact is to have what they have in areas like PBI FLL MIA. And in CT and other major cities. That is the commuter rail service. There are a lot of people who commute over an hour to their jobs.

I am one of them who commute over an hour to get to work. But I have to drive there is no service what so ever from where I live to Work. Now if they would make something to do the run for people who live where I live and have a way to connect with someone to get down to where I work I would use it. But Florida keeps turning down the idea for a commuter rail service that would connect the state. There is the tri rail but that is no where near me. And now they are making a rail service for the I-4 area to bring people to Orlando. But that does not help somoene like me who lives out in MLB and works over at Disney. If they ever do come up with something like that and that will run 24 hours a day. I would use it in a heartbeat.

I just wish they would see that if they would think about people who commute everyday for work people would use it. I think that is where america needs to look at for Rail service right now.



Fly HI
User currently offlineJohnJ From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1656 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (5 years 10 months 13 hours ago) and read 3510 times:



Quoting Commavia (Reply 7):
If operated smartly, I think there is no reason why high-speed passenger rail - in certain markets that I and others have already identified - could be profitable on its own.

That would be setting quite a precedent. Current railroad infrastructure in the U.S. is simply not up to snuff for high-speed rail; even the highly-touted Acela only manages 150 m.p.h. (and that for only a very short stretch) due to right-of-way limitations. For true high-speed rail new rights-of-way are required. Do you have any idea of the cost and years of litigation it would take to build a completely new rail line from, say, Washington to Boston? I shudder to imagine the cost. You think airports have NIMBY problems, wait 'til it's announced the new high speed rail line is going straight through Greenwich.

To that end, name one rail passenger line anywhere in the world that's profitable on its own. I'm talking about railroads that own and maintain their own infrastructure and equipment, not like the UK model where private companies contract to operate over government-owned and maintained rights-of-way.

Passenger rail, or at least major components of it, is by necessity a ward of the state - perhaps contracting out operation of the trains would be of benefit, but there's no way a private company is going to shoulder the entire cost of running passenger trains. Why do you think Amtrak was formed in the first place?


User currently offlinePanAm747 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 4242 posts, RR: 8
Reply 11, posted (5 years 10 months 13 hours ago) and read 3463 times:

This topic has been discussed many times, but I must say the presentations here in this particular thread have been outstanding! Logical, informative, and backed up by fact, and most of all, virtually devoid of emotion and name-calling.

The biggest problem with railroads in the United States is that virtually all of the track is owned and operated by private companies that do not provide passenger service. To ensure that passenger railroad survives, the U.S. government created a railroad system called Amtrak.

Needless to say, Amtrak has had its successes and its failures.

Short-haul routes are extremely useful - ridership on the Northeast corridor routes is the highest in the country, but the California routes - the land of the automobile - is also highly used. The Pacific Surfliner, The Capitol Corridor, and the San Joaquin Valley trains are in the top routes that Amtrak has. In the 1980's, there used to be only two daily trains from Bakersfield to the bay area. Now there are four, plus two that go directly into Sacramento (with bus connections for the non-served cities), for a total of six. Reservations are required on these trains as ridership is high.

The point has also been belabored about the need for "subsidies". Every mode of transportation in this country is a government subsidy, from airports to trains to the roads we drive on. Not even local public transit or inter-city rail could turn a profit without charging fares that would not be acceptable. That's part of life.

The economic value, however, of Amtrak's short-haul routes is quite high - can you picture all the travellers on the northeast corridor trying to drive? Or take a bus? Or flying?

As for the inability of Amtrak to increase its trains, remember that Amtrak does not operate its own track for most of its routes, and priority goes to freight trains. It's their tracks, they can tell Amtrak to pull over. For the most part, this system works well enough, as the cost of Amtrak maintaining its own tracks would cost WAY too much, even with government subsidies. Not to mention, obtaining the land for these tracks would be $$$$ prohibitive along with the NIMBY's who would do everything to keep it from being built.

As for airlines competing with Amtrak, I think the shuttle flights are scheduled for business travellers with frequent flyer points who are used to it. For the family travelling on holiday between Washington DC and New York City, there's no competition - the train is cheaper, easier, and MUCH less stressful than getting on a plane. Even in the central valley of California, United Express has just a few planes to SFO from BFL and FAT, mainly for business travellers - it is SO much cheaper and easier to go Amtrak.

Thanks for reading my rant.



Pan Am:The World's Most Experienced Airline - P(oor) S(ailor's) A(irline): San Diego's Hometown Airline-Catch Our Smile!
User currently offlineR2rho From Germany, joined Feb 2007, 2578 posts, RR: 1
Reply 12, posted (5 years 10 months 10 hours ago) and read 3373 times:

One thing I'd like to point out is that rail isn't really an option for long-haul travel in Europe either, despite the well developed network. Just like Amtrak between, say, Chicago and NY is not a viable option (and probably not profitable either), people here won't take the train to go from Madrid to Berlin - that's what the plane is for. You can't ask Amtrak to compete on long-haul when even the much better functioning European railways aren't doing it.

HSR on the other hand is excellent for mid-haul (up to 400mi) between large centers of population, which is why I think it would work well in the areas that have already been mentioned here (Northeast, Texas, California, Midwest). Conventional rail is mainly competitive on short-haul (up to 200mi).

Quoting PanAm747 (Reply 11):
This topic has been discussed many times, but I must say the presentations here in this particular thread have been outstanding! Logical, informative, and backed up by fact, and most of all, virtually devoid of emotion and name-calling.

I agree. This is one of the more high-quality air-vs-rail threads I've visited here.


User currently offlineJaws707 From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 708 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (5 years 10 months 8 hours ago) and read 3296 times:

I think as airlines update and improve their business plans to make a profit and improve ROI and ROA and such metrics that it is going to get more expensive to fly and this should be a big help to Amtrak. Before this year flying domestically was very inexpensive as too many airlines focused on size and kept too many under performing routes open, but with all the new fees and higher ticket prices due mainly to oil I think we should be able to see a larger gap in ticket prices between Amtrak and the airlines. The lower ticket prices that Amtrak offers (I'm expecting the gap to widen over the next year) as well as the slowing economy should be a positive environment for Amtrak where ridership should be able to increase in the coming years.

User currently offlineSoxfan From United States of America, joined Mar 2008, 864 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (5 years 10 months 4 hours ago) and read 3170 times:

Thanks for all the responses, everyone; I'm happy to see a thread without name-calling, bashing, etc.

One question I do have: Why is the government focused on giving money to the airlines and not to Amtrak/the railroad industry? I've read many times how they (Amtrak) are struggling for money in order to improve, and even maintain, their service which at least in the Northeast Corridor is at record highs, as someone said in a previous post. I haven't heard much, if anything, from any of the presidential candidates about improving transportation, but do you think with a new presidency could come the potential for more funding for trains, and Amtrak in particular?



Pilot: "Request push, which way should we face?" JFK Ground: "You better face the front, sir, or you'll scare the pax!"
User currently offlinePanAm747 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 4242 posts, RR: 8
Reply 15, posted (5 years 10 months 3 hours ago) and read 3118 times:



Quote:
Why is the government focused on giving money to the airlines and not to Amtrak/the railroad industry?

  • The railroad industry received more subsidies than any other industry in the 1800's when the companies developed their cross-country routes. Massive land grants and tax breaks were the norm in order to built their routes, along with the guarantee of a near-complete monopoly on what they could charge. Today, new routes really aren't being built - just maintained, and the companies can recoup their infrastructure costs back in what they charge for shipping.

  • Airlines are privately owned, and Amtrak is government owned. According to those in government, privately (mis)managed companies need public support in the form of handouts and subsidies - that's helping out a large employer in someone's congressional district and state. Amtrak, however, is a constant drain on society that serves NO useful purpose. Note the sarcasm, please.

  • Flying is much more used than train travel is. The length of time required for a cross-country train trip makes it impractical, but airports are virtually everywhere. Congresspeople can commute back and forth to their district in just a few hours, and the need is vital.


  • Pan Am:The World's Most Experienced Airline - P(oor) S(ailor's) A(irline): San Diego's Hometown Airline-Catch Our Smile!
    User currently offlineWunalaYann From Australia, joined Mar 2005, 2839 posts, RR: 25
    Reply 16, posted (5 years 10 months 2 hours ago) and read 3090 times:



    Quoting Lambert747 (Reply 4):
    There are very, very few markets in the USA for which Amtrak is a viable option over air and car travel. The following are the most popular Amtrak routes in the USA:

    I agree with the ones you have listed.

    Although I actually think your list of routes could be expanded dramatically to the tune of:

    Detroit-Chicago-Milwaukee-Minneapolis and branch to St Louis out of Chicago
    Philadelphia-Pittsburgh via State College and/or Scranton
    New York-Albany-Buffalo-Toronto-Hamilton then onwards connecting to Detroit-Chicago line
    Québec-Montréal-Ottawa-Toronto and same as above
    Detroit-Cleveland-Buffalo
    St Louis-Memphis and/or Nashville
    Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati
    New York-Hudson-Montréal
    Atlanta-Florida
    Intra-Florida
    The possibilities are endless...

     Smile

    Quoting JohnJ (Reply 10):
    For true high-speed rail new rights-of-way are required

     checkmark  Absolutely correct, to the point where non-high-speed trains cannot even access the high speed infrastructure simply because said trains do not feature in-cabin signalling, which is vital for operations at speeds above 220 km/h. If you travel to France and ride on the TGV, you will notice that there is no physical signalling along the track.

    Quoting R2rho (Reply 12):
    Just like Amtrak between, say, Chicago and NY is not a viable option (and probably not profitable either), people here won't take the train to go from Madrid to Berlin - that's what the plane is for. You can't ask Amtrak to compete on long-haul when even the much better functioning European railways aren't doing it.

    HSR on the other hand is excellent for mid-haul (up to 400mi) between large centers of population, which is why I think it would work well in the areas that have already been mentioned here (Northeast, Texas, California, Midwest).

     checkmark  Very well said.

    The general consensus for commercial success is said to be transit times between 3 and 3.5 hours on the train. Beyond that window, the plane will be generally more competitive. Rail's main advantage over such distances is the central location of most railway stations, thus saving long approach trips to outer-suburbs airports.

    Quoting Jamesontheroad (Reply 6):
    Both the TGV and Shikansen were conceived by state run railway companies. They had to be to get off the ground, although both are now run by commercially driven enterprises.

    And another very good point, in my opinion.

    We are starting to touch the reality of infrastructure funding and economics, which is a dense subject on its own. Theories abound regarding the possibility to make infrastructure financially profitable but very few actual examples can be found. The multiplication of public-private partnerships to fund large infrastructure projects (of all modes and kinds) shows that if indeed there was money to be made in building roads, airports and railtracks, then we would already have them, and they probably would not need government intervention.

     Smile


    User currently offlineSaxman66 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 518 posts, RR: 0
    Reply 17, posted (5 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 2968 times:



    Quoting Commavia (Reply 2):
    There is no market for long-distance Amtrak trains in the United States, which is why these trains continue to require massive amounts of subsidies and government funding in order to continue operating - at excessive cost to taxpayers.

    Absolutely there is. I travel on many long distance train, mainly the Empire Builder in the past. It goes from Chicago to Seattle and Portland. Now one might think, who travels by train from Chicago to Seattle? Well I believe I saw less then 10% of passengers actually travel the entire way. But yet the train is still completely full the entire way. (Try buying a ticket for today or tomorrow. It's probably near sold out) Its' the fact that, in one trip, their are hundreds of city pairs to get on or off at. I use to live in North Dakota, and if it wasn't for the train, I'd have a hard time getting to Minneapolis. Now I travel a lot to Wisconsin Dells, and that train is perfect for getting there. So the fact that those long distance trains have so many city pairs and connections at their end points, make long distance train very cost effective. So you can compare East to West Coast trips all you want, but make sure you compare every other city pair too.

    Now you can look at Amtrak's financial figures, and say the Empire Builder lost X amount and carried Y amount of passengers, so X divided by Y equals cost per passenger. But that doesn't really say much. Gotta look at distance too, and I bet if compare all passengers, on all trains, you'll come up with about the same numbers.



    Ride Amtrak!
    User currently offlineRwSEA From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 3077 posts, RR: 2
    Reply 18, posted (5 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 2928 times:



    Quoting Commavia (Reply 2):
    However, in those areas where reliable, high-speed trains can be efficient, effective and profitable, these things cannot happen as long as Amtrak is controlled by the government. Politicians screw up everything - everything - they touch, and Amtrak will never get the attention, investment and resources it needs if micromanaged and mismanaged by the government. After all, Amtrak still continues to contend that train travel cannot possibly be profitable without government subsidy, which is patently false.

    What we could really use is an efficient high-speed train system (I'm thinking Shinkansen or TGV) with limited stops and miles and miles of well-designed, high-performance track. The first and most likely place for this to occur would naturally be the Northeast Corridor. But it will never happen as long as Amtrak is the one calling the shots. Never.

    The efficient high-speed train systems you mention are not profitable without government subsidy. But airlines and individual car owners are subsidized as well. I've never understood the argument that trains need to be profitable when roads are one of the most expensive pieces of infrastructure we build, with 99.9% being 100% subsidized.


    User currently offlineR2rho From Germany, joined Feb 2007, 2578 posts, RR: 1
    Reply 19, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 2702 times:



    Quoting RwSEA (Reply 18):

    The efficient high-speed train systems you mention are not profitable without government subsidy. But airlines and individual car owners are subsidized as well. I've never understood the argument that trains need to be profitable when roads are one of the most expensive pieces of infrastructure we build, with 99.9% being 100% subsidized.

    The key here is that the government needs to subsidize the construction of the infrastructure (just like with roads, airports, etc), which has huge costs at the beginning and a very slow ROI that make it unbearable for a private company to do. But once built, train services can run profitably on the infrastructure, while paying fees to the government for its use. That's how it (now) works in the UK (after the attempt to have privately-financed infrastructure turned into a disaster). Amtrak has it the wrong way around: government company running on private infrastructure...


    User currently offlineMSYtristar From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 6520 posts, RR: 51
    Reply 20, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 2683 times:

    Amtrak long distance service, while not competitive with the airlines obviously, is still widely used. I wonder sometimes if those who just say "oh it's a great expense for the American taxpayer and not useful" have ever really taken a long distance train trip and have seen with their own eyes just how useful a service it is....especially in the hard to reach small towns where sometimes, it's the train or...nothing. Sure, it's a vacation for some. It's a mode of transportation for others.

    The U.S spends about $40 billion/year on highways, $10 billion on mass transity, and $1.4 billion on Amtrak. Clearly, the priorities of this nation are screwed up. But I will say this...W is getting ready to sign the new Amtrak reauthorization bill which will double Amtrak funding to $13 billion over 5 years. When you consider the increase in fuel costs and the increasing annoyance of flying, coupled with Amtrak's record ridership, it's nice to see perhaps a change in the paradigm when it comes to the way the U.S views passenger rail.

    The future is obviously in short haul corridors, 500-miles or less. But there will likely always be a need for some long distance service.


    User currently offlineWunalaYann From Australia, joined Mar 2005, 2839 posts, RR: 25
    Reply 21, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 2609 times:



    Quoting MSYtristar (Reply 20):
    The U.S spends about $40 billion/year on highways, $10 billion on mass transity, and $1.4 billion on Amtrak. Clearly, the priorities of this nation are screwed up.

    Hey, thank you for these figures, they look very interesting. Would you have a source?  Smile

    As much as I agree with you regarding the mind-boggling gaps between the funding of transport modes (it would also be interesting to have figures for the federal funding of airports and ATC, by the way), this road network of yours is still highly valuable, and it would be an economic nonsense to let it fall into disrepair. Maintenance is vital.

    But I agree, maybe some of the big ticket road projects could be shelved for a few years and the funding redirected towards alternative modes.

     Smile


    User currently offlineMOBflyer From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 1209 posts, RR: 4
    Reply 22, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 2538 times:

    I've often wondered if the way to create sustainable rail solutions is for a private company to do it. Not to compete or replace Amtrak, but a profit centered company that doesn't have the burden of stopping in every podunk town on the way.

    I for one, can't wait until the three Gulf Coast HSR Corridors open up.... (New Oreans-Mobile, New Orleans-Houston, New Orleans-Atlanta)


    User currently offlineMoMan From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 1054 posts, RR: 4
    Reply 23, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 2477 times:

    Having ridden the Northeast corridor a lot lately, I can only say that I'm surprised that ANYONE would choose air travel when a train as convenient/comfortable and fast as Amtrak is available.


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