Future of Amtrak

October 18, 2002 • Volume 12, Issue 35
Should the nation's passenger railroad be saved?
By Brian Hansen


Amtrak's Capitol Limited winds through the Pennsylvania countryside.  (Amtrak)
Amtrak's Capitol Limited winds through the Pennsylvania countryside. (Amtrak)

Last summer, America's government-subsidized passenger railroad received emergency operating funds, but its long-term future remains in doubt. Critics say rail travel is outmoded and expensive, and that the billions of dollars in subsidies Amtrak receives aren't warranted because it accounts for less than 1 percent of intercity passenger travel. But Amtrak supporters argue that rail travel reduces highway congestion, air pollution and urban sprawl while stimulating economic growth in urban centers. If the railroad received its fair share of federal transportation funding, supporters say, the U.S. would have the finest rail system in the world. Meanwhile, to boost ridership and revenues, Amtrak in 2000 introduced high-speed rail in the busy Northeast Corridor and now is trying to bring HSR to other parts of the country.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Oct. 14, 2022  Passenger Rail
May 01, 2009  High-Speed Trains Updated
Oct. 18, 2002  Future of Amtrak
Apr. 16, 1993  High-Speed Rail
Mar. 10, 1978  Future of American Railroads
Mar. 07, 1975  Railroad Reorganization
Jun. 20, 1973  Railroad Nationalization
Nov. 17, 1961  Railroad Subsidies
Aug. 24, 1960  Railroad Mergers
Jan. 01, 1958  Condition of the Railroads
Jan. 31, 1951  Railway Safety
Oct. 04, 1944  Railroad Freight Rates
Jun. 12, 1939  The Government and the Railroads
Apr. 21, 1938  Government Ownership of the Railroads
Dec. 07, 1937  Railroad Rates and Revenues
Jul. 17, 1937  Advances in Railway Passenger Service
Sep. 27, 1934  Railroad Rates And Federal Regulation of Transportation
Jan. 11, 1933  Railroad Receiverships and Reorganizations
Aug. 26, 1932  The Railroads and the Depression
Oct. 13, 1931  Wages of Railroad Labor
Jul. 09, 1931  Railroad Freight Rates
Feb. 14, 1931  The Railroad Consolidation Controversy
Sep. 19, 1927  The Problem of Railroad Valuation
Mar. 30, 1927  Railroad Consolidation and Prospective Legislation
Mar. 26, 1927  Principles of Railroad Consolidation
Mar. 08, 1926  Railway Labor Disputes Legislation
May 04, 1925  The Baltimore and Ohio Cooperation Plan
Sep. 12, 1924  National Railroad Consolidation and the Van Sweringen Merger
Aug. 14, 1924  Automatic Train Control in Relation to Railroad Casualties
May 28, 1924  The Condition of American Railroads