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After riding trains in Europe and Asia, many Americans return home wondering why Amtrak is not more modern and comprehensive. Most developed countries prioritize and fund passenger rail, but in the United States many elected officials call for Amtrak to be profitable – a standard that passenger railroads in other countries and even other transport modes in the U.S. are not expected to reach.
Revenues today cover 95% of Amtrak’s operational costs. But beyond a handful of showcase corridors, the outcome has not been so rosy: Despite a national population growth of nearly 120 million (57%) since Amtrak’s founding, the rail network has shrunk by thousands of miles – leaving Las Vegas, Phoenix, Columbus, Nashville, Dayton, Boise and dozens of other cities without rail service. Large cities like Houston, Cleveland and Cincinnati only see trains three times per week or when most people are sound asleep. Meanwhile,
This article first appeared on www.railpassengers.org
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