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Amtrak Sees Growing Demand, Requires Funding

by Megan Hill

Jan 10, 2020

Amtrak. Photo: Margoe Edwards | Dreamstime.com

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The head of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor says an uptick in rider numbers makes the case for more investment in rail.

“The U.S. has been late to the game on train travel, but demand is growing,” said Caroline Decker, vice president Northeast Corridor Service Line, Amtrak, at the Financial Times Future of Mobility Summit in London.

Amtrak saw 32.5 million passenger trips through September 2019, its highest-ever number and an increase of 800,000 year-on-year.

“We’re capacity constrained and on aging infrastructure. We have a new fleet coming in 2021, but U.S. investment has been largely focused on highways,” Decker said. “Now there is strong demand for different modes of transport and it’s creating a better economic case for investment.”

Amtrak is a semi-public company that receives a mix of federal and state funding. Congress increased funding year-over-year for the past few years, and that’s set to happen again in 2020. Next year, the company hopes to break even for the first time ever.

The Northeast Corridor has high-speed Acela trains, which have business- and first-class seats, and the slower Northeast Regional trains. The company recently launched non-stop Acela trains that travel between New York and Washington, D.C. in two hours and 35 minutes.

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