Mr. Richard G. Slattery, Senior Research Director of the National Railroad Passenger Corp. (AMTRAK), examined the challenges and opportunities facing the nation’s passenger rail services in a presentation at the annual meeting of the Friends of the Fairfax Station on March 23.

Mr. Slattery addressed challenges facing the company, including an aging fleet and the never-ending need to continue service improvements for passengers. He noted several trends that could benefit passenger rail services if AMTRAK is able to take advantage of them. These include reduced reliance on automobiles among younger urban residents and the potential for expanded passenger rail services in “mega-regions” such as the Northeast Corridor. These areas represent a “sweet spot” in high volume, profitable passenger services.

AMTRAK carries about 30 million passengers annually. Noting continued reductions in its operating deficits, Mr. Slattery believes AMTRAK’s goal of eliminating deficits by 2020 is realistic. To capitalize on new opportunities while assuring reliable service will require extensive investments. (March 2019)

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