What’s Wrong With Amtrak


Letter From Andrew Selden President, United Rail Passenger Alliance

To Hon. Elaine L. Chao, Secretary United States Department of Transportation

Dear Secretary Chao:

URPA has followed with interest the Administration’s budget proposal and its purported impact on Amtrak, as well as Amtrak’s recent statements concerning its results, investment priorities and spending plans. These stories all reflect long-standing misimpressions of both the financial and operational results of Amtrak’s various train operations, and the outcomes of Amtrak’s investment strategies. The budget proposal threatens to eliminate the largest sector Amtrak operates (by output) and its most commercially successful trains (by load factor and market share).

Amtrak’s investment strategies reflect a serious misapplication of scarce capital resources. For decades—subsequent to the departure of W. Graham Claytor as CEO—Amtrak has produced a negative rate of return on invested capital:  Amtrak’s financial results are worse now than they have ever been despite the investment of tens…

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