Rail transport

Amtrak's big, unlikely idea

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

America's only real passenger rail company wants to ask Congress for permission to stop losing tens of millions of dollars on long-distance routes, the WSJ reports.

The big picture: "Amtrak says it will need $2.2 billion to $2.7 billion between now and 2030, as part of a total $3.8 billion it expects to spend on replacing the long-distance fleet, including locomotives Amtrak has already ordered."

Amtrak wants to prioritize shorter routes to attract riders

Woman boarding amtrak train
An Amtrak train. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Amtrak wants to boost its financial performance by prioritizing fast-growing, shorter routes in the South and West while cutting expensive, long-haul routes across the country, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: Amtrak believes its best success stems from investing in shorter routes in growing areas — for example, Atlanta, Georgia. to Charlotte, North Carolina — that could feasibly compete with air travel. But any move toward cutting the legacy coast-to-coast routes could anger rail enthusiasts and would require the approval of Congress, which has supported such routes in the past.

Go deeper: The troubling string of Amtrak crashes

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