It’s Time for a New Era of Investment in Amtrak

It’s Time for a New Era of Investment in Amtrak

On Wednesday, I joined the Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Science and Transportation to discuss the need for a new era of investment in Amtrak’s infrastructure, fleet, and stations—all of which are critical to the operations and future growth of passenger rail in America.

Record-breaking Ridership

In fiscal year 2016 Amtrak had record ridership of more than 31 million passengers, and ticket revenues of $2.2 billion. We think this proves that more than ever members of the public rely on Amtrak for mobility. However, the future of Amtrak also depends on our renewal of the locomotives, bridges, tunnels, stations and other infrastructure that allows us to meet these growing demands.

At Amtrak, our job is to run the national network that Congress and the American people—our principal stakeholders—believe to be worth their investment. I believe we can be better than ever before by relentlessly improving our safety culture, modernizing and upgrading our products and strengthening our operational efficiency and project delivery.

Funding the Next Generation of Rail Travel

To do this, Amtrak will need additional support from Congress. After 45 years of service, much of our equipment and infrastructure are nearing the end of their useful life. For example, Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor is North America’s busiest railroad with 2,200 high-speed, intercity, commuter and freight trains daily—but much of the system was built over 100 years ago.

Despite a long list of infrastructure investments, we know that these improvements provide considerable benefits to the traveling public and the national economy. Making such investments in rail infrastructure not only help Amtrak better serve passengers, they also stimulate job growth in construction, manufacturing, and professional services, when labor and materials are sourced from communities across the nation.

Our mission hasn’t changed—Amtrak is here to help move people, the economy and the nation forward. With the right investments we can continue to deliver on that mission now and into the future.

Wick Moorman is Amtrak’s President and CEO. You can watch Mr. Moorman’s testimony in its entirety here.

 

4 comments
AnneMastersonBurke
AnneMastersonBurke

My property abuts the Northeast Corridor in Massachusetts.  I look out my back door and see rusty chain link fencing.  When I walk along my border, I arrive at a poorly constructed gate for Amtrack's maintenance workers to access the tracks.  I am constantly zip tying the gate so that children can't slip through the loosely padlocked chain. There is also a now closed footpath that was designed to allow pedestrians to cross in the safety of a below ground underpass.  The copper roof on one side has blown off, 6 months or more ago.  When that building crumbles, the integrity of the tracks will be compromised if it isn't already.  The building on my side of the tracks is being maintained by my neighborhood!  Why?  So we aren't looking at blight!  Before Amtrack is even considered for approval of funds for expansion, they need to develop a workable maintenance plan for upkeep of existing structures everywhere!  How can they expand when they don't take care of the property they're already responsible for?  If your own roof leaked, would you ignore it for months on end including the winter and think everything will continue to be ok with your house?  Of course not.  Wake up Amtrack!  You can provide jobs by developing a maintenance program!  And not the kind where it takes 8 men to change 3 railroad ties.  I saw that just 2 weeks ago! 

FrancisSalvatore
FrancisSalvatore

You need first and foremost to CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN all the sleeping rooms at the end of every long distance trip. Dirty,dirty, dirty cushions,surfaces,window ledges. And inspect AND FIX all rattling doors,loose upper berths supports, and missing weather strip on bathroom showers. I spent 10 days on long distance trains and every one had issues. Unacceptable!

DanielLilly
DanielLilly

Good GOD*****D right it's "time to invest". Way past, imho. Here's the "pie-in-the-sky" view from The Hinterlands of Select Executive AGR status in Arkansas. I want $4 billion a year for 10 years as a direct subsidy. This is over and above all current commitments, including the $2.5 bln loan for the new Avelia Liberty trainsets. I want to see it invested and distributed equally across all 3 components of The National System-So that's a cool Billion to the NEC, another billion to State-Supported, and a third billion to the beleagured Long Distance. To imagine the level of service, the amount of increased service, the number of manufacturing jobs, railroad jobs, tech and construction jobs, that would be created is gobsmacking and obvious on its face. And even WITH all that, and even WITH being able to 'put back' that fourth "extra" $1bln/year for 10 years to pay for these investments later on, this total is HALF of the most RECENT Highway Trust Fund bailout. I think, politically, this is actually an OPPORTUNE and unique moment in history to make the case for this, too. Why? Because our POTUS should be able to see the obvious investment opportunities located in the hearts of over 500+ cities across the USA. Many of them in States that supported him. The Cardinal in WV is a prime example of this, and what COULD be done with a solid, stable, long term base of taxpayer support, which taxpayers WILL support when they are given the option to support it. If you live in WV, with 3x/week service, you likely don't even know it's there, much less use it, much less be enthusiastic about it.

Saltcay
Saltcay

While it is great to see infrastructure improvements along the East Coast corridor, how about expanding in the mid-west as well.  From St. Louis, you can only go to Chicago, Kansas City, or Texas.  The ridership would vastly improve if there were more destinations, and those destinations were more convenient.