Railways Receiving Infrastructure Bill Billions are ‘Dying,’ Experts Say

A shiny passenger train racing across long empty stretches of American plains may be iconic, but it’s an economic anachronism, experts say. Even so, the Senate’s infrastructure bill gives $66 billion toward the repair of Amtrak lines—nearly 60 cents to Amtrak for every dollar the bill put toward highways. This figure doesn’t reflect the way Americans actually travel, said Cato Institute senior fellow Randal O’Toole. People drive 840 times more distance than they take Amtrak. Passenger railroad use has steadily declined overall since 1920 except during World War II, O’Toole added. The Interstate Commerce Commission predicted that inter-city passenger trains wouldn’t exist by 1970. But vast amounts of government aid has kept long-distance passenger train travel running long after it became economically implausible, O’Toole said. Amtrak’s History Before 1980, railroads were highly regulated. But railroads had a problem. Long and unprofitable passenger train routes were draining their funds, O’Toole said. …

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