Ways to Decrease Costs

Decreasing costs is never easy – it can be controversial and disruptive. But in the business world it’s either cut costs or go out of business. Amtrak’s biggest expense by far is labor and it’s nearly equal to the ticket revenues – in FY16 Amtrak ticket revenues were $2.14 billion and the salaries/wages/benefits were $2.06 […]

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Ways to Increase Revenue

Amtrak’s national system of long-distance trains lose about $500 million per year in cash, and Amtrak desperately needs to look at low-cost ways to increase revenue from the operations of the national system. The trick is to increase revenues at a much higher rate than increasing costs. It would be nice if Amtrak could simply […]

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Amtrak Profit/Loss

Even during the golden years when the railroads carried 25% of all intercity trips the profits were never really in hauling passengers as freight was the big money maker. Most railroads turned their passenger trains over to Amtrak in 1971 for a reason – the trains were losing lots of money. The railroads were paying […]

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Infrastructure

You hear a lot of talk these days about infrastructure from various politicians, and it’s probably a good idea to determine how much it would cost to improve passenger rail service, assuming that the financing was made available. New single-level passenger cars cost about $4 million each. The new order of Viewliners being constructed by […]

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Why Don’t We Have More Passenger Trains?

The USA used to have a vibrant, comprehensive system of privately-operated passenger trains. The private railroads operated the trains without government assistance, and paid taxes on their passenger-related assets as well. New Orleans was once served with passenger service by eight different railroads, and when New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal opened in 1954 there were […]

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Improving the Sunset Limited

The Amtrak route most in need of improvement is the Sunset Limited train between New Orleans and Los Angeles. The train passes through huge population centers (like Houston) and the southern part of Arizona as well (although it currently bypasses Phoenix). Following are some suggestions to improve the Sunset Limited: 1.) Operate the train daily. […]

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Higher Speed Rail

Some states are investing in projects to dramatically increase the speeds of their conventional Amtrak services to 110 mph. Generally these routes are upgraded freight railroad lines that have been rebuilt from the ground up, including strengthening bridges, new rail, concrete ties, etc. The (approximate) $5 million cost per mile to upgrade conventional railroads is […]

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What’s Train Travel Like in Louisiana?

The only operator of regularly-scheduled passenger trains in Louisiana is Amtrak. Amtrak is the quasi-public corporation created by Congress back in the early 1970s to take over the money-losing passenger trains from the private railroads. Amtrak charges market-based fares for its services, and then the federal government provides funding to help pay for some of […]

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Why We Need Passenger Rail

Increased Safety – train travel is much safer than automobile travel and about as safe as plane travel. The more passengers that choose the rail option, the fewer motorists will die on our nation’s highways. Most Energy-Efficient – airlines consume 20% more energy per-passenger mile than Amtrak, and automobiles consume 27% more per-passenger mile. More […]

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High Speed Rail in Louisiana

What would 220 mph high speed rail look like in Louisiana and the region? Imagine travel times from New Orleans to Baton Rouge of 30 minutes, New Orleans to Shreveport of 1-1/2 hours, Shreveport to Dallas of 1-1/4 hours, New Orleans to Houston of 2 hours, and Atlanta, Orlando, and Dallas all 3 hours away […]

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