Amtrak: America's Passenger Rail Service Getting out of Track?


Code : COM0086

Year :

Industry : Transportation

Region : USA

Teaching Note:Not Available

Structured Assignment :Not Available

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Amtrak: Laying the Tracks The roots of Amtrak can be traced back to the emergence and development of railways as an alterative to freight transportation in 19th century in the US. The country's political parties patronized this faster mode of transportation, which helped in the growth of the economy. The construction of railway lines supported by government funds boomed between 1830 and 1860 and railroad companies were established to connect different parts of the country. The major source of income to these railroads was from freight transportation. Until the early 20th century, railways virtually had no competition for short as well as long distance travel...

A Struggled Existence The 1990s, the period of American economic growth, saw an increase in the travel requirements of the Americans, which was met by various modes of transportation. In 1996, the number of commuters of Amtrak was 19.7 million, up from 16.6 million in 1972. During the same period, the number of airline passengers tripled from 191 million to 581 million. Intercity bus service, which is considered the closest competitor to intercity passenger transport, showed a 7% increase in passenger volume between 1990 and 1998...

Would it Survive? Ronald Utt, Transportation Specialist at Heritage Foundation, said, "Amtrak has always operated under the assumption that it has to be national to get a sufficient majority in Congress to maintain its subsidies. If itwere to shrink to an economically viable size, it would lose Congressional support." It was opined that the Americans perceive passenger trains as the glory of their past and also as a way to save energy, curb pollution, reduce congestion on highways and help those who cannot afford air travel. According to a report of the US Bureau of Transportation, 20% of US rail passengers had a household income below $25,000, while it was 50% in the case of bus passengers...

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