Amtrak threatens to discontinue long distance service

| 3/1/2002

According to the Associated Press, Amtrak has threatened to discontinue all long distance train service in October if Congress doesn't give it $1.2 billion in the next budget year.

According to Associated Press reports, Amtrak leaders have long said the federal government needs to invest more in tracks, rail yards, stations and other assets. The sources said Amtrak reported it has a $5 billion backlog of needed improvements that have not been made through the years because of a shortage of capital funding.

According to the AP, Amtrak is under growing pressure to improve its finances and that next week, the government will be told by a congressional appointed committee to break up Amtrak and open passenger rail to competition.

Amtrak has used more than $25 billion in federal subsidies since its inception in 1971. Congress, five years ago, gave Amtrak until December 2002 to end its reliance on annual operating subsidies.

Last week the Transportation Department's inspector general reported that Amtrak lost $1.1 billion in 2001, the most in its 30-year history, and is no closer to operational self-sufficiency than it was in 1998.