Inside Amtrak’s Dying Long-Distance Trains | WSJ

Amtrak’s proposals for altering or eliminating some of its long-distance train routes, in favor of more frequent service where the population is growing, is facing opposition among those who fear rural America would suffer. WSJ’s Jason Bellini reports.
Photo: Getty
#WSJ #Amtrak #Trains




  • Heck, there's no trains to Nashville, which used to be one of the nation's largest passenger train hubs.

    Frank HollyFrank Holly10 นาทีที่ผ่านมา
  • I think the Cresent was a terrible example. It connects cities within the distance that many would take the train with. A better example would be something like the Empire Builder, which really doesn't do the same.

    The Shinto RailfanThe Shinto Railfan3 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • This is just another example of our government waste. Take a dying industry...."passenger rail" and prop it up for tens of years. Folks supply and demand rules effectively ended rail service in the 30s and 40s, only our government would prolong the death of an industry for the infinitesimally smallest fraction on the population, at a significant cost to the rest of us. LET IT DIE, there is statistically NO NEED FOR IT.

    Anthony KleinAnthony Klein3 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • Will the new rail gun solve these issues? How about trade war with China? No.....well ok then.

    Smendrick PepperellSmendrick Pepperell4 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • All about money in their pocket what a shame

    Dean DombrowskiDean Dombrowski4 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • Didn't rural America fail a long time ago?

    ewd76ewd766 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • As a former Amtrak employee I can say that union employees effect the operations and customer service in most cases giving it a bad customer service experience.

    Mike DiezMike Diez7 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • Took a long distance train for the first time this year and it was a great experience. You don't have the pressure of an airport, the accommodations are MUCH better, and it's easier than driving. If Amtrak had track priority and we had more passenger trains, Amtrak would be way more viable. Not to mention if we could have high speed trains for long distance routes to speed up the journey.

    John GrahamJohn Graham14 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • Nooooooo I don't want Amtrak to die. We will fight the greedy government if they try to take away our precious Amtrak. I refuse to get on a plane. LONG LIVE AMTRAK!!!!!!!!!

    Big Chungus JoshBig Chungus Josh20 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
    • It's only the long distance lines. All other Amtrak lines will stay around. If we just cancel the long-distance ones, we could get lines between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, Nashville and Memphis, or Spokane to Seattle.

      The Shinto RailfanThe Shinto Railfan4 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • They are talking about returning a train to Northern Michigan, I can't wait, I think its a fabulous idea. The whole world has functional, useful trains, why can't America?

    North GuyNorth Guy22 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • Just took the Empire Builder from Chicago->Glacier Park MT->Seattle one of the best trips of my life.

    Chadwick WorthinghamChadwick Worthinghamวันที่ผ่านมา
  • how about this, you link every city in the USA with a population over 250,000 with a TGV like network. Sleeper trains for the longer 1000 mile routes, if the French, Germans & even Russians & Chinese can do it why not ? it would create tens of thousands of jobs for decades. Its either that or you make 100 million Teslas....just isn´t enough Lithium in the world for the batteries !

    John CeeJohn Ceeวันที่ผ่านมา
    • No, that's way to expensive.

      The Shinto RailfanThe Shinto Railfan4 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • Alternatives: 1 The North East has lots of scope for fast reliable trains from city center to city center. But the longer routes should be given up. Only for freight trains. 2 Stop Amtrak long distance. Add 1/2 passenger coaches to long distance freight trains and allow passengers to board/ alight where the train would have stopped anyway (for fuelling or staff change)

    Black SwanBlack Swanวันที่ผ่านมา
  • I know building new tracks fit for high speed services is an expensive venture (and your investors wouldn't like it) but look at the Japanese. Massive overbudgeting during construction (plus ridiculing by naysayers) and yet it's the best rail network in the world now and it's practically never late.

    Goodman 4525Goodman 4525วันที่ผ่านมา
    • also if the airlines had to build their own airports and runways instead of the cities and local governments (taxpayers) paying the tab they would not be able to fly so cheap either, airports are taxpayer government boondoggles

    • many routes like the Milwaukee road Hiawatha had their own dedicated tracks very good and set for speed, for their day, Hiawatha hit in excess of 100 mph on the straight runs, the freight rails don't allow that kind of speed, too rough. When Amtrak was created the powers that be forced the sell off of all trackage to the freight companies who in turn decommissioned most of the passenger only tracks, forcing Amtrak to rent their right of ways, passenger trains were supposed to have the right of way over freight however that has never been enforced causing most of the passenger delays . As far as those who say flying is comfortable, they ain't built like me, 6 foot 1 and quite broad shouldered, a true country boy now 60 years old, train seats are almost 5 inches wider, with enough room to totally stretch your legs out and really do recline, no seat belts, you can get up without being suspected as a terrorist, I love it

  • Scrap them now!!!!!!!!!

    em zeeem zeeวันที่ผ่านมา
  • permanent cabinet and administration for public transportation. mandate with a new amendment to constitution.

    Jarrod YukiJarrod Yukiวันที่ผ่านมา
  • Those long-distance trains must stay, everything else would be a sacrifice of a great American tradition for the sake of short-term profit.

    Tobias KyonTobias Kyon2 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Keep the long-distance routes for their value to the U.S. and invest in the short line profitable routes.

    George OrwellGeorge Orwell2 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Amtrak is more than a Business, trains will become more Important over time...:)

    Khondker Rifat HossainKhondker Rifat Hossain2 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • They won't.

      The Shinto RailfanThe Shinto Railfan2 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
    • Honestly, I hope Amtrak never dies. I will NEVER take a plane.

      Big Chungus JoshBig Chungus Josh20 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
    • in any other business you look at what you can do to improve service and incite more customers, it is short sighted to just cut back all the time, eventually you cut back to nothing because of junk service, typical government attitude, more local trains bringing riders into the hubs would increase business and profit. no business sense, this manager is the same idiot that decided to cut out dining cars on a trial basis on some routes and serve cold box lunches to cut costs, after all no one complains about it on the airlines , right?, about got his head ripped off with complaints, real way to increase ridership ,make it suck

  • So Meridian, MS is benefiting from Amtrak's presence and wants it to keep the route? Then put your money where your mouth is and have a city tax specifically to help fund Amtrak. If not it's like you ate at a restaurant with a bunch of friends and then balked at having to pay for your part of the bill.

    admiralcapnadmiralcapn2 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • 0:35, or as the great sean hannity would put it, the smelly wal mart people express

    Caliente631Caliente6313 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • We need more competing passenger rail lines is what we need. Having a single company running the whole show keeps rural America hostage. If Amtrak folds on long-distance, a competing company takes over. Another solution: split up the rail ways into zoned areas. So you have companies that compete on the western coast, companies that compete on the eastern coast, companies that compete in the midwest, companies that compete in the south west, and so on. They only operate and compete in respective zones of states, cutting down on long-distance costs and providing more-intense competition within smaller sections of the country. No need to work on nation-wide rail networks (unless your company is making a positive net profit to make that kind of expansion).

    missourispartanmissourispartan3 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • your model is how it operates in the UK. It leaves some areas with the best provider (like Grand Central) while others have lesser regarded companies. The issue in the US is that a few freight carriers own all the rails while in the UK the rails are public resources. this means that maintenance costs of the rails in the UK are public expenses spread amongst all taxpayers, whereas in the US those expenses are passed directly onto the consumer from Amtrak because they are getting hefty bills from providers like Norfolk Southern to use their rail network. While I think the idea to split up the rails into regional competition isn't a bad one, I think it could prove difficult to be profitable.

      galifinakigalifinaki3 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • It is ironic that the rail network here, which was instrumental in the building of rural America should find itself under threat by the very people rural America put in power. Congress ought to face the reality of railway financing instead of wishful thinking, but can we seriously expect such 'elites' who exist in a social class, completely disconnected from the train travelling public take notice of rural America? Or perhaps Amtrak should take a leaf out of Boeing's book and fill more Congressional back pockets in order to get their attention!

    bigdmac33bigdmac333 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • This is why we should let privatized passenger trains exist again.

    John WhitesellJohn Whitesell3 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • this will probably never happen - the primary reason being that the cost to build new rail/acquire land rights for rail is impossible for any for-profit private train company. renting the rails from the legacy freight carriers is very expensive and limits innovation because you are using slow, freight train infrastructure. this is the main reason why "bullet trains" don't exist in the US.

      galifinakigalifinaki3 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • I would love to ride our train system to places I want to go. However, if you do choose to train-travel, it would be for the joy of riding the train for those of us with no local stop. Air-travel has made going places more convenient, time saving, and sometimes cheaper. For example, if I want to go to New Orleans from Houston, I'd have to take a bus to San Antonio then 15 hours to New Orleans on Amtrak for about $200 in the nice, comfortable, and private room. A plane takes me in a little over an hour for about $80. I'd love to see more accessibility for train access, but I don't know how this country can pull that off even with all the "short" rail options.

    Megan BrunsMegan Bruns3 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • What a POS Gardner is. He is trying to destroy rail travel for poor Americans. He has no grand vision and is a total POS.

    TheTalkWatcherTheTalkWatcher4 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Can you imagine being old enough to have seen WW2, steam die, diesels rise, passenger dying, and flight rising?

    The Dill PickleThe Dill Pickle4 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • 3:05 the grown up equivelent of letting your sibling use your things and them claiming it's theirs

    The Dill PickleThe Dill Pickle4 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • I regularly travel the California Zephyr from Denver to Lincoln multiple times, and it is cheaper than cutting off an arm and a leg to fly from DIA to Omaha and even into Lincoln itself. The 8-hour ride through the night isn't the most comfortable; it is still efficient. That train is filled with people who need to get to Fort Morgan, McCook, Hastings, Lincoln, Omaha, Des Moines, and finally Chicago and it does bring value to every town and city. What needs to happen is that we need to copy the German model of train transportation; have a separate branch line strictly for passenger trains and the others for freight. The most significant delays I have experienced on Amtrak are when the train has to go on the siting and wait as a BNSF coal train roles by as they have the legal right away. This is inefficient and costs time and money for Amtrak as a business. Also, the engines could use an update, and we need to experiment with long-distance bullet trains.

    A BarnA Barn4 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • Cheaper?

      The Shinto RailfanThe Shinto Railfan4 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • Doesn’t a long-distance train connect a lot of smaller cities along the way? It doesn’t just start at one end and not stop enroute.

    Andrew SomersAndrew Somers4 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • "better than what you get on an airplane" yeah but the airplane is quicker so you only need 1 meal.

    pingpong1138pingpong11384 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • And the lie people like Richard Anderson push is that local lines are more "profitable". They are only "profitable" because the states make up the difference between ticket revenue and operating costs. Actually, no Amtrak line under 750 miles can get federal operating funds, not matter how many state lines it crosses. If we want a more complete rail network, or even just shorter day time runs of other trains, it's going to cost us more than $1.5 billion in subsidies a year.

    Saint of BaconSaint of Bacon4 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • We need to keep the long distance routes. So much of the US depends on it.

    Ed AdamsEd Adams4 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Taking an overnight train from DC to New Orleans is utterly pointless. You can just pay the same price to sit in a plane for 3 hours... same price, a lot more efficient. However, taking the train from DC to New York is better because flight tickets are often OVERPRICED for a short 1 hour flight.... Unless you are in a desperate rush a 3-4 hour train ride is a lot more appealing.

    Panicking in TrenchPanicking in Trench4 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Public transportation/even sidewalks outside of major cities within the U.S. is practically nonexistent. Not surprising when the government is focused more on profit and power than supporting it’s citizens. This effects every single industry in our country and its visibly crumbling at this point.

    Crystal VCrystal V4 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • This is why I don't understand why high speed trains don't attract investors.

    Arielle RidgewayArielle Ridgeway4 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • Because they take billions of dollars to develop and build and arent profitable.

      ryancj1542ryancj15424 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Stop throwing money at private corporations to charge people for the same product!

    Antel DrobatAntel Drobat5 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Who cares about profit, increase more tracks to every city

    Theodore ThevenotTheodore Thevenot5 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • Exactly, are Roads 'profitable' with all those repairs that need doing.?

      D VickersD Vickers3 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • America is so far behind the rest of the world when it comes to train service. Once was enough for me. I could have rode a bike and got there faster. We shouldn't be spending tax dollars on something that can't substain itself.

    Craig ParkerCraig Parker5 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Atlanta = small city. The guy running amtrak is delusional. Atlanta is one of americas busiest and largest cities. Metro area 5.5 million. One train a day. The same companies running the british railways must be running amtrak as well.

    GreatanotherchannelGreatanotherchannel5 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • I absolutely love riding the train! I wish more people knew how relaxing and beautiful a ride on the train is! When you travel by train the vacation starts the moment you board. For me it’s even the moment I book the ride.

    BmilesonlineBmilesonline5 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Time to invest in bullet trains like the rest of the world. America is staying back in time while the world is advancing.

    Joseph Meets TravelJoseph Meets Travel5 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • I hate flying!

    Joseph ForestJoseph Forest5 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • @The Shinto Railfan Not for me , no thanks.

      Joseph ForestJoseph Forest10 นาทีที่ผ่านมา
    • No matter what, @Joseph Forest, you'll be better off going by plane over long distances and only taking a train for short distances.

      The Shinto RailfanThe Shinto Railfan14 นาทีที่ผ่านมา
    • @The Shinto Railfan Ain't????????????

      Joseph ForestJoseph Forest31 นาทีที่ผ่านมา
    • @The Shinto Railfan I have time and I make time .

      Joseph ForestJoseph Forestชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
    • It really ain't a better way, @Joseph Forest. Long-distance trains are slow, while planes are fast.

      The Shinto RailfanThe Shinto Railfanชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • 6:06 100% respect to this point! im from China. in my country we been focusing building railway instead of airway for decades, cuz airplane only connects 2 single big cities which idk maybe 10 m people, railway connects every small town btwn them which can be 100m people. ive seen cities and cities in china developing in ridiculously rapidly speed in 10 yrs or just 5 yrs, simply cuz they got a railway stop built upon major railway lines. railway cross country benefits everyone, but unfortunately just not to railway company.

    JL PennJL Penn5 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • At least part of the problem is the railways that are available. With the freight companies owning the lines used by Amtrak, they can keep Amtrak from having many trains on a route or even having those trains keep to their schedule. Unless Amtrak can have priority on these lines, there's really no way for Amtrak to run reliable service -- especially when trains can be delayed by multiple hours. The alternative is to build new lines, but then the problem becomes who is going to pay for the land, development, and upkeep.

    DeidrytDeidryt5 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • rail freight is the backbone of america. the only real infrastructure advantage the country has. china drools over the usa's rail freight network. don't touch it, there is no alternative.

      oldtwins naoldtwins na28 นาทีที่ผ่านมา
    • The freight trains are the biggest obstacle to on-time performance.

      J HillJ Hillวันที่ผ่านมา
  • Amtrak should look at Brightline as an example of how they should run their service. Clean, fast, and efficient.

    Arrowlog ProductionsArrowlog Productions6 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • There is no offer in Europe for Amtrak's long distance rides. Do a coast-to-coast offer with Connections travel agency in Europe. The only way they offer long distances is by rental car. DO IT !

    De Cnijf KrisDe Cnijf Kris6 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Looks like a nice train

    111mrhead111mrhead6 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • China high speed trains are better than this

    Lynne DAILynne DAI6 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • TGVs across the USA? Never going to happen. America has lost the technical expertise and now the financial capability to do it.

    Alastair BarkleyAlastair Barkley6 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • Technical expertise? TGV tech gets exported; it's not restricted to France.

      holycrapchrisholycrapchris6 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • I strongly believe money needs to be invested in to the quality and size of the trains, as well as jumping in to the future meaning invest in trains goons faster and rides being more reliable as far as being on time and cutting down on travel time.

    TheRenegadeStarrTheRenegadeStarr6 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • amtrak has never made a profit from the time is was payers bail it out every freakin year.

    Peoria & Eastern Railroad lewsaderPeoria & Eastern Railroad lewsader6 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Amtrak: We're losing money! Government: So cut your routes! Lobbyists: No, bill the taxpayer!

    FourDollaRacingFourDollaRacing7 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Transportation is a basic need, it should be run as a public service not a for profit organization.

    first Impressionfirst Impression7 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • NYC to Florida 30 hour ride so worth it better then flying.

    river side jugglerriver side juggler7 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • When the government picks winners and losers the taxpayer always loses

    CrifstarCrifstar7 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • those medium distance city pair connections likely mirror the prior national high speed rail corridor plan.

    chernobyl68chernobyl687 วันที่ผ่านมา

      chernobyl68chernobyl687 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Hello USA from UK. We have lots of pacer DMU'S coming "off lease" soon. Perfect for local services

    Vincit VeritasVincit Veritas8 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • Don't be unkind! (Just glory in their passing)

      John ClaydenJohn Clayden7 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Don't get Serco to do sleepers over there. You'll get extra distance for you ticket😂

    Vincit VeritasVincit Veritas8 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Did it SPAD at beginning? Or signal reset quickly

    Vincit VeritasVincit Veritas8 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Reasons I don't use Amtrak 1. Costs too much (Plane tickets from most of these locations are cheaper) 2. Takes way too long (26 hours to go from DC to New Orleans) 3. Unreliable (Every time I've taken one it's been "delayed") 4. Not enough trains (self explanatory)

    D FD F8 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • if its in emergencies or a short trip to someplace far away can understand that, but if its a big trip then i don't understand as much, yes tickets can be expensive but if you plan early its cheaper, but whatever

      RailbronyRailbrony8 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • @Railbrony If you have the time and the money then I get it. I'm just trying to get from A to B

      D FD F8 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • Its not all about speed, you miss the scenery when flying in a plane, i always prefer taking my time!

      RailbronyRailbrony8 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Seats? People? What else?

    Edison ZhuEdison Zhu8 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • I lost interest the moment you ordered your steak medium.

    Rtruo85Rtruo859 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • I do not like flying. So only way to get from Florida to west coast is car?

    Why no privacyWhy no privacy9 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • so now they gotta build all these roads across the country not only that but these rail tracks won't reach every point

    TrololololTrolololol9 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Here in the U.K. the trains don’t go ANY distance if a leaf or snow flake falls on the line and halts them or if a Victorian piece of equipment fails.

    ChipchaseChipchase9 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • Not in America, either.

      The Shinto RailfanThe Shinto Railfan6 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • If you're serious on tackling climate change, then high speed rail will be your only option. There is no sustainable future for air travel and cross country bus travel is too slow and will rely on fossil fuel.

    Ramin FarhadiRamin Farhadi9 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • It isn't the future. It's literally the past. Without the train going to smaller towns, there's no point to it as planes are more effective. Where did Amtrak find this clown?

    Something Something SomethingSomething Something Something9 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • Cars are also the past then! as are boats! phones! cameras! lights! buses! nearly everything we use on a daily basis is from another era! planes are NOT everything! if you watched the video you d see that not everyone can or wants to fly!

      RailbronyRailbrony8 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Well if we stop welfare to illegal immigrates theres your 40 billion with 17 billion left.

    Jimmy LincolnJimmy Lincoln9 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Acela Express

    S PS P9 วันที่ผ่านมา
Inside Amtrak’s Dying Long-Distance Trains | WSJ