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Rail News: Amtrak

Amtrak unveils five-year strategic plan


Amtrak recently released a five-year strategic capital investment and operating plan to restore its plant and equipment, and improve the railroad’s reliability.

The plan doesn’t propose any significant new passenger services, but focuses on improving the national passenger railroad’s existing services. The plan details what Amtrak proposes to repair in regards to equipment, track, signals, interlockings, bridges, maintenance facilities and other assets.

Amtrak is proposing annual federal funding range from $1.8 billion in fiscal-year 2004 to about $1.5 billion in FY 2008 for capital investments and operating needs.

"While there has been much discussion of ‘reforming’ Amtrak in recent years, no matter what reforms policymakers may want, you have first got to get costs and reliability under control," said Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer David Gunn in a prepared statement. "This strategic plan focuses on funding a fiscally tight business and bringing the railroad to a state of good repair so that it costs less for the taxpayer to support it."

Infrastructure improvements cited in the plan include installing 428,000 concrete ties, refurbishing 200 miles of catenary, and replacing 270 miles of track, 225 miles of ballast, 40,000 switch ties and 26 interlockings.

Amtrak also has developed a four-part fleet rehabilitation program to retire old cars, repair damaged cars and overhaul cars to extend their lifespans. About 81 percent of Amtrak corridor trains are available for revenue service; the fleet program is expected to make 90 percent of the cars available for service.

"This plan is comprehensive and thorough. Every dollar is strictly accounted for, and anyone reviewing the plan can understand where and why the money is being invested," said Gunn.

Over the five-year plan’s course, Amtrak estimates its operating cash loss will decrease from $744 million to about $650 million.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/30/2003