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Making Amtrak Profitable

Even after ending a five-year span with record revenue growth of nearly 40%, Amtrak lost $1.1 billion during the fiscal year 2001 and could potentially be liquidated at the end of 2002. In the aftermath of September 11th, Amtrak passenger trains have gained customers, most likely from declining US air travel. Even with increased ridership though, Amtrak must face the task posed to it before this year: become self-sufficient. In response to this, working on a deadline of February 7th, the Amtrak Reform Council recently published their recommendations about the fate of Amtrak, proposing that Amtrak's interests should be split between three companies. Central to the debate are profitable railroad routes like the Northeast Corridor, the Boston to Washington train line that yields standing-room only space at times, and unprofitable lines like the California Zephyr, the Chicago-Denver-California route that passes through the scenic Rocky Mountains. With the breakup of Amtrak, unprofitable lines like the California Zephyr could potentially be discontinued. Ultimately, Amtrak, as it has operated since 1971, stands on the brink of many changes.
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