INTERCITY PASSENGER RAIL: AMTRAK WILL CONTINUE TO HAVE DIFFICULTY CONTROLLING ITS COSTS AND MEETING CAPITAL NEEDS

This report reviews Amtrak's cost and capital investment needs. In particular, the report discusses (1) changes since 1995 in Amtrak's operating costs, including labor costs, payments to freight railroads to access their track and keep Amtrak trains on time, and interest on commercial debt; the projected changes over the next 5 years; and Amtrak's plans to address these costs; (2) Amtrak's short- and long-term capital investment requirements, including investments to address "state of good repair" issues and investments in its progressive overhaul program and Northeast Corridor high-speed rail program; and (3) the availability of federal and nonfederal funds for Amtrak's capital investments. Unless otherwise noted, all dollar amounts in this report are in constant 1999 dollars. Briefly, Amtrak's operating costs have increased since 1995, and future increases can be expected. In particular, costs in three areas - labor, interest on commercial debt, and payments to other railroads to access track and keep Amtrak's trains on time - have all contributed to these increases. The General Accounting Office estimates that Amtrak has short- and long-term capital investment needs totaling about $9.1 billion through 2015. These needs include safety improvements on tunnels and bridges on the Northeast Corridor and restoration of the Northeast Corridor to a condition that requires only routine maintenance, among other things. Finding the financial resources to meet these needs will be difficult since Amtrak's identified capital investment needs are expected to exceed available federal capital funds by nearly $2 billion over the next 5 years. Amtrak expects to share the cost for some infrastructure investments with other railroads and will have to look increasingly to nonfederal sources, such as states, to obtain capital funds.

Language

  • English

Media Info

  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Tables;
  • Pagination: 59 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00797088
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: GAO/RCED-00-138
  • Files: NTL, TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 3 2000 12:00AM