Amtrak’s REAL Problem Revealed.
Amtrak’s president and CEO, Wick Moorman, testified at a committee hearing recently and there were some illuminating nuggets within his comments.
For instance, we all know that there are problems with the Northeast Corridor infrastructure. New tunnels to take trains under the Hudson River and into New York’s Penn Station are urgently needed. Two recent minor derailments within Penn Station are ample evidence that a lot of work needs to be done there, too. Several of Moorman’s comments really sharpened the focus, helping me to better understand Amtrak’s role in the big picture.
Consider the following:
▪ Amtrak owns Penn Station and is therefore responsible for all the rail traffic and all the passengers coming and going, no matter which railroad is involved.
▪ Only 12 percent of all the trains that use the Penn Station facilities are Amtrak trains; all the rest are either New Jersey Transit or the Long Island Railroad.
▪ Penn Station was designed to handle about half the number of trains that now come and go every day.
▪ Therefore, infrastructure maintenance in Penn Station is difficult and very costly because it requires that tracks be taken out of service.
▪ The commuter railroads using Penn Station do not pay their fair share of what it costs Amtrak to accommodate their trains in Penn Station.
All of this is very interesting because people who know a great deal about this stuff (people not employed by Amtrak) have long contended that contrary to what continues to be reported as gospel, the Northeast Corridor is NOT profitable and Amtrak’s long-distance trains ARE profitable.
So, naturally, Trump’s Run-the-Government-Like-a-Business Budget would keep the Northeast Corridor and dump the long-distance trains. Seems to me we should be getting a little more and a lot better than that.