Amtrak’s Grand Plan for Profitability

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Animation by Josh Sherrington
Sound by Graham Haerther (http://www.Haerther.net)
Thumbnail by Simon Buckmaster

Music by http://epidemicsound.com
Select footage courtesy the AP Archive
UNSW photo courtesy Sardaka, University of Sydney photo courtesy Jason Tong

References:
[1] https://skift.com/2016/10/11/delta-air-lines-chairman-resigns-effective-immediately/
[2] https://www.businessinsider.com/amtrak-why-so-expensive-america-train-system-2019-3?r=US&IR=T
[3] https://www.bts.gov/content/amtrak-time-performance-trends-and-hours-delay-cause
[4] https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/projects/dotcom/english/public/documents/corporate/businessplanning/Amtrak-Service-Line-Plans-FY20-24.pdf
[5] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-11-20/amtrak-ceo-has-no-love-lost-for-dining-cars-long-haul-routes
[6] https://thepointsguy.com/news/amtrak-plans-to-expand-new-nonstop-acela-service-from-new-york/
[7] https://transportation.house.gov/imo/media/doc/Anderson%20Testimony.pdf
[8] https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Texas-High-Speed-Train-is-Shovel-Ready-565182232.html
[9] https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelgoldstein/2019/10/31/billionaire-branson-gets-billions-in-bonds-to-launch-vegas-to-california-train-service/#f5ffad276604
[10] http://trn.trains.com/bonus/amtrak
[11] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_wave_of_January_1977
[12] https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/projects/dotcom/english/public/documents/corporate/nationalfactsheets/Amtrak-Economic-Contribution-Brochure-083016.pdf
4454 comments
Man 0f Trenches 6 month ago
"There is a lot more to America, than a 4 hour corridor around the biggest cities" that was a powerful quote my dude.
JustBronzeThingsLoL 5 month ago
States: You can't get rid of that route! It provides jobs and necessary connections! also States: You can't add a track there for high-speed trains! That would be... annoying! Or something!
Matthew Hill 5 month ago
Why does Amtrak *have* to make a profit, anyway? Does the interstate highway system make a profit? Shouldn't Amtrak be a national asset that we all benefit from?
Hoystein 5 month ago
Cutting the long distance rail would be an awful idea.
Infinite_Test 5 month ago
“The company’s purpose is to connect America”... missed opportunity to be sponsored by Death Stranding
Sgt. Eclair 6 month ago
Wendover: Does a video on trains Also Wendover: *PLANE MAN SAVES TRAINS*
Mike Morris 4 month ago
You forgot to mention the Auto Train.. I’ve heard it’s one of Amtrak’s profitable routes..
High Iron Productions 5 month ago
Lets say this again so those in the back can hear: Amtrak doesn't need to be profitable - it's purpose is not to enrich stakeholders, it's purpose is to provide transportation and stimulate the national economy by promoting the movement of people across the nation. Both of which it does! Could it be improved? Sure. But it doesn't need to make a profit - it's an investment, not a private cash cow.
Breeki Gopnik 5 month ago
I rode AMTRAK around last year for a holiday. I was actually really impressed by their service and speed. We arrived on time, and the carriages had wifi in all units. Alcohol was available at their lounge too. Really nice ride for a low faire.
Michał Prądzyński 5 month ago
USA: Our long range Amtraks are so scenic, slow, relaxed and nice. Getting there is half of the pleasure. It is more political than economical. China : 200 000 km of high speed! rail exist.
Irgend so ein Typ 6 month ago
Us government : You make long distance trains to connect America Amtrak : Ok *10 years later* Us government : Why don‘t you make money ?! Amtrak : Because of the long distance route, I will need to cut them Us government : *NO* Amtrak : Then give me more money and opportunities ! Us government : *NO*
Hugh Barringer 5 month ago
Two other "misleading" Amtrak practices: counting state subsidies as revenue and counting depreciation as a capital cost.
Zack Genin 3 month ago
ASDF movies: "I like Trains." Wendover Productions: "Challenge accepted"
Tiny Elephant 4 month ago
Honestly, Amtrak itself really shouldn't be blamed for this dilemma. It receives its funding from Congress, and well, Congress has continued to refuse it more money for upkeep on these routes. Amtrak is being faced with a difficult situation that isn't of their own doing.
RanochVTX 4 month ago
To start, Amtrak needs more funding and their own train tracks.
Frank Daws 6 month ago
Rail: “Texas Triangle.” Airlines: *nervous sweating*
Mittens 4 month ago
I have ridden on the Empire Builder train from Chicago to Seattle a number of times. A fantastic experience that I can’t remind highly enough.
Joseph Weisbrod 5 month ago
Before Amtrak, the freight rails gave their passenger trains priority. Always on time. Now, Amtrak has to wait for the freight rails since they own the line.
Logan Caron 5 month ago
It doesn't help Amtrak's case for profitability when they "took over" short haul carriers before them and all the debt that came with those carriers.
J NAF 5 month ago
"LOST OF JUST 30 MILLION Dollars" "cries in broke"
Klobi for President 6 month ago
I didn't even know Amtrak wanted to enter the airplane related business.
William Haynes 5 month ago
I live in Phoenix, az.. Were one of the largest cities in the usa and have 0 Amtrak stations. For us to ride a train we have to take an hour long Greyhound bus ride to the Amtrak station in Maricopa, az...
Saud 5 month ago
*The Logistics of Resorts in the Maldives!* Would be nice to see this title some time😻 because it’s fascinating what they do over there in the middle of no where!
k. k. 5 month ago
I’ve taken the train from Detroit to Albany twice. I enjoyed it and I would do it again. I almost did it a third time, but scheduling wasn’t ideal. Trains aren’t that bad.
DamuEmran 5 month ago
I wish they could let amtrak buy more lines so they don't have to share it with others.
Canal no operativo 6 month ago
Video is about train industry. _23 seconds from start_ *plane appears*
Harry Gruber 5 month ago
The only answer is high speed trains. But for that you have to have dedicated tracks only for high speed. No freight on those tracks. That will shorten the time from point A to point B by a lot. Restore the seats . The noise levels on the train especially in the sleeping compartment. People will see those changes that will bring more ridership. The name of the game is speed .
Miles Riehle 5 month ago
Just curious: Any reason why Coast Starlight isn't on the long distance map?
Turcik 5 month ago
"The company's primary purpose, beyond making money, is, of course, to carry JOE BIDEN" C'mon, you missed the opportunity to make an HAI-style joke :(
GRAND CHUNGUS 5 month ago
Wendover: makes video on Amtrak Foamer: has entered chat
neubro 144 5 month ago
While in Japan, trains are 99% percent on time with delays in seconds. Most delays are because of passenger behavior, medical emergency, outside interference and natural disasters. Fast trains need their own set of tracks, gauge and grade separation. This is why Shinkansen got its name meaning "new trunk line". They already have pre-packaged ekiben meals at least in most long distance lines.
William Hill 5 month ago
Good video, if Big Oil's influence ever wanes Amtrak's future will be bright, most industrialized countries subsidize their rail roads
Scott Gray 5 month ago
If they ever manage an “over nighter” between Houston and So California without having to include MIssouri in my itinerary, I’ll think about taking a train.
Mr. King Kitty 5 month ago
After ridding bullet trains in Asia, it would be nice to have some in the USA.
John Daly 6 month ago
As a Japanese i just realized what the US call short distance train route is equivalent to out long distance route. We are smaller than the state of california afterall.
saa82vik 5 month ago
No public rail company with a large network ever made a profit in the post war western world without massive subsidies, whatever fast or slow.
bilias hour 5 month ago
If Amtrak cuts the California Zephyr I'll riot.
James Shewan 4 month ago
"This route, connecting Boston, New York, and DC, and a number of smaller cities" Hold up, wait a minute. Philadelphia is more populated than TWO of those cities you mentioned in that sentence fragment. It is actually the fifth largest city in the USA. *AND A NUMBER OF SMALLER CITIES*
dillogdall1 5 month ago
Doesn't surprise me they make money in the northeast, took the train there once, and the price was outrageous.
David Dickey 5 month ago
I'd love to use them but their prices are outrageous, travel times too long and don't even go where I need to go, and I live in a railroad mega-hub.
Geofry Lawton 4 month ago
"Profitability, no matter the cost" is a really apt description of American train service.
Mark' Anthony Par-Wise 5 month ago
I really like taking a train over plane and car it's pretty easy too
Josh Fredman 5 month ago
I can't recommend Amtrak's long-distance routes enough: Their trains are unbelievably more comfortable than planes or buses. You can get up and walk around, even grab a coffee from the cafe car and sit in the observation car. Your seat is spacious, with its own electrical outlets and armrests, and big windows with beautiful views. There's something romantic about riding away from the roads, through empty plains and sweeping mountains. But perhaps the biggest advantage of riding Amtrak is the people you meet along the way. People who want the fastest trip will take a plane. People who want the cheapest trip will take a bus. People who want absolute privacy will drive. So the train ends up collecting this diverse bunch of travelers, voyagers, explorers, students, foreigners, the elderly...people with stories to share, who make great conversation partners. It's one of the reasons I'm sad they're getting rid of the dining cars, because they sit you with strangers at mealtime (due to limited space) and it's the perfect excuse to make a new friend. We need to get this Delta CEO guy out of this job. Amtrak's purpose is to connect the nation via rail, not to make money. We need to elect a Congress that understands this, and send the Delta shill packing. I don't want trains to become like planes: cramped messes where you get nickel-and-dimed for everything. The fact that he uses fraudulent accounting to make the long-distance routes look more unprofitable than they are--which I'm glad Wendover touched on--is proof positive that his agenda is to destroy Amtrak's core mission of linking America. He needs to go.
Lets Roll 2020 6 month ago
If they had a "See America" wristband that was valid for 30 days.... I would pay $700.00 for it.
Doug Grinbergs 5 month ago
3:43 Denver Union Station, I believe
Isaac Bos 5 month ago
Thanks for a great video Wendover! I must say, Anderson's resentment for long distance trains has made probably the most hated railroader alive! And I think he deserves it! He is trying to cut long distance route that are a lifeline for small communities and serve to connect the Amtrak network! But when Amtrak was founded in 1971 it was founded to keep long distance routes from being scraped! Honestly will Amtrak ever be consistently profitable? This isn't Conrail, so NO! Anderson please just accept that and start giving better service!
Sean 5 month ago
I love trains. I don't care if they take longer, there's just something romantic and fun about them, more so than a planes
Colin Leary 5 month ago
4:48 *Hooters in the background” I see you Sam
fejic 6 month ago
Wendover: Boston, New York, DC, and a bunch of smaller cities Philadelphia: Am I a joke to you?
Michael Hunt 4 month ago
I love taking the Train! I've got lots of great memories from many long trips on Amtrak. I hope they keep everything going.
Timothy Webb 4 month ago
As someone that has traveled every long distant route on Amtrak, being from the UK; I loved Amtrak. One thing I found is how Americans misunderstand the relevance of the long distant rail routes, a lot of the problems is image related in the US, a lot of american I spoke to did not even know it was an option. I hope this new guy that is not into understanding the importance to what could become very isolated communities in the US, It reminds me a little of a man called Dr Richard Beeching who oversaw a profitability of the then privatised British Rail Network; the project became known as the 'Beeching Axe'; This was in the mid 1960s and some areas of the UK never recovered. As not only congressmen know how it could lose them re-election there has to be consideration given to the larger picture that can go far beyond the economics of running trains. Interested to see how Richard Branson private rail experiment goes in Florida, Richard has a lot of experience of running profitable passenger rail services here in the UK with his serving the customer and upgrading the quality of the rail stock and speeds. EDIT: China is building the largest high speed train network ever, I think it may be time for the US to swallow its pride and take notes from China. https://youtu.be/0JDoll8OEFE
Chopstick_Abi 5 month ago
You missed the coast starlight, and the pacific surf liner doesn’t go up that far
Simeon Chambers 5 month ago
I love train's, if I could go on train everywhere I would. Since a young boy in Los Angeles taking my first train at 10. Train's have so much history and lore, I've never read so much as I can on a train, while looking out at the scenery. Hopefully people realize how important our train system is, and stop giving scam artist airline companies money. Let's hope for a complete makeover for Amtrak.
Rick K. 6 month ago
1:54 "Connecting Boston, New York, DC and a number of other smaller cities" *Glares in Baltimore and Philadelphia*
Gabriel G 5 month ago
first step: put hunter biden back on the board
Servant Of Bubastis 5 month ago
I can't hear "Connecting America" without thinking immediately of Death Stranding
ZeroFu*ksGiven 5 month ago
My cousin was chairman of Amtrak during the 1980s and made a ton of improvements but just couldn't close in on profitability. While it is great they finally are, doing so via the use of cost-cutting measures which reduce the quality of life for those travelling (like freshly cooked food), I am against. Those are some of the very reasons why people chose to travel on those long-distance routes. Next, they are going to be crowding in more seats. Not good.
Kevin Zurek 5 month ago
>Congress says spend less Oh yeah but billions more for military. I have bias towards trains, sure but hell I think its worth it too keep those long distance routes alive.
ExcessMean 5 month ago
The sole reason Amtrak was created was to take over the burden of operating the long distance routes. If Amtrak cuts them then there is no reason for Amtrak to even exist. This is why operating these routes should take priority over being profitable.
D M 4 month ago
Love travelling with Amtrak when in the US. Went from Seattle to NYC with numerous stops and not one issue along the way
scott sheehan 3 month ago
one problem is sleeping accomadations are way to costly.a$25 steak in the dining car is not helpful either.
Maddy Greenfield 5 month ago
"puts them *on track* to break even in 2020"
Josh Talbot 5 month ago
When I look at long haul trains for getting across vast countries like the US and my native Australia, I think of them more as a tourist service (Perhaps less so in Australia as the distance to smaller satellite cities around major cities is often too small for air travel). This is especially true for trains that aren't on high speed rail. I think scaling back the number of services on the long historic routes would make sense.
leadfoot9x 6 month ago
*Wow. Just imagine if states only built highways where they could afford to without Federal subsidies!*
Seamus McKeon 5 month ago
This reminds of the AOC video where she’s riding the high speed train to DC
Matthew Belamont 3 month ago
I rode the Amtrak from Minnesota to Washington state it was an experience I’ll never forget by drive if you barely sleep u can do the drive in about 3-4 days it was only 2 days on the train had lamb chops for the first time while watching the country side flow by I highly recommend it
CombatWombat 3 month ago
The destructive forces involved in the incessant hunt for the absolutely most profitable method of operation is one of the only cases that can or will ever be made against private business.
Delta Bravo 5 month ago
2:37 The Amtrak Cascades runs all the way to Eugene, OR, not just to Portland (From Vancouver, Canada)
Mr. Narwal 6 month ago
Phew. He got a plane in there. Was nervous when I saw the title.
Matthew Jay 5 month ago
I’m from Houston and I’ve taken the Sunset Express to L.A. before. I look forward to the Houston-Dallas bullet train.
Onetwo Threefour 3 month ago
as a professional train rider i'd suggest getting rid of on board food, if prepared beforehand or freshly made. for short distances people dont need food, for medium distances, they will just bring something with them and for long distances you will provide something small alongside whatever they have brought with them. one thing that keeps me from using many train companies is that they force their food on me. not that it would be bad, unhealthy or whatever, but you cannot ever beat my walmart food or kid's momma's made food or a rich person's super-mega especially prepared 3 course meal. besides, the usa is a gigantic melting pot, how would you ever be able to make dinner that everyone likes on a train??? just give them a tea/coffee and a croissant in the morning and they'll be happy. you'd be better off investing into a good kitchen that prepares good coffee from what i heard. some people are incredibly picky with those
CommandoDude 5 month ago
Less focus on profitability. More focus on getting trains on-time.
Linda Hanson 5 month ago
Clean bathrooms and comfortable beds in coach, please!
Hsfjeldnfd Hejfnfdnslcjwk 5 month ago
They should hire a Swiss railway professional and give Amtrak Swiss levels of funding
ynwa forever 5 month ago
SAA: *Goes into business rescue* Sam: great video topic Your next video must be on South African Airways
Omar 90s 5 month ago
- But trains are magical, it's amazing to travel on train, it's a new experience, you visit small towns and new people
ekszentrik 5 month ago
First mention of planes in a train video: 25 seconds in.
YeetusД Feetus 5 month ago
0:22 Thats when he first shows a plane.
Prabhdeep N 6 month ago
Breaking News: Florida Man steals entire Amtrak train, refuses police orders to pull over 'Amtrak don't cut our lines' - Florida Man
Van Ivanov 5 month ago
11:40 "the company's job is to connect America." Without rail lines connecting America, Norman Reedus will have to return to his job carrying paper-think crates across the wastes.
Max Nash 4 month ago
10:34 No not the California Zepher! When I was a little kid me and my grandpa used to take that train to Sacramento!
Andrew Field 5 month ago
9:36 I thought that looked familiar. that's the old station in Newark, Delaware. Where I went to college. Spent a few times waiting there for a train.
ToadSauce 5 month ago
The fact that there’s a plane in a train video is amazing.
Alpha Killer 6 month ago
“The company's purpose to connect America” *Sam Porter Bridges has entered the chat
bilinas mini 5 month ago
1:50 "this route, connecting Boston, New York, DC, and a number of smaller cities." Bro, why'd you do Philly like that?
Nooticus 5 month ago
Absolutely exceptional video as always! You hit the nail on the head with this video!
SRMkay 4 month ago
Amtrak is as slow as driving and as expensive as a discount airline. I'll pass until something major changes
recedingant 5 month ago
What this doesn't tell you is that Amtrak charges the freight RR for Evey delay they have.
Steven Selby 6 month ago
I'm going to be riding the California Zephyr in 2 weeks, I'm so excited and glad I'll get to do it before things change.
Fnu Lnu 4 month ago
NO RAIL CUTS!!
Doug Grinbergs 5 month ago
Wonder if they do any business with that infamous McKinsey outfit.
Scott B 5 month ago
I really wanted to take my son and wife from Minnesota to the Pacific northwest on Amtrak. But then I read the reviews. Holy smokes the reviews are absolutely horrifying.
Sean Gibbons 5 month ago
6:09 - The flip board at 30th Street station; you will be missed.
David Hansson 5 month ago
If I was him I would do the same to the long haul lines as Russia did to the trans Siberian express. Make them an attraction, make them more appealing, not cut food or anything else.
frankiecrocker 3 month ago
Amtrak needs to use logic when it comes to some of their routes. The Silver Meteor for example, from New York city to Miami; a 26 hour ride, 10 hours of which are spent on 17 stops in Florida alone. They also recently had amfleet cars refurbished. Comfy seats sure, but why do you have to charge your phone by intruding on the person in the window seat?
Christopher S-B 5 month ago
I believe in you Mr. Anderson! I also hope you see these maps and realize we need more North-South lines, not just East-West!
Diego The Explorer 5 month ago
In the animation of cutting the most egregious routes, the one that was loosing the most money was not cut 🤷🏽‍♂️🤷🏽‍♂️
Nuraly Kurmanov 6 month ago
I love how he just forgets Philadelphia, when talking about NorthEastern corridor
Jack Hake 5 month ago
Article on View from the Wing noted that Amtrak’s 30 million dollar loss figure includes government subsidies which are accounted as “passenger revenue”.
The Vintage Comet 5 month ago
*cough* bring back the privately own railways like the Southern Pacific, and bring back better passenger train travel *cough*
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