Is the railroad industry dying in the United States?

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All types of railroad, both passenger and freight. I read on some railroad forum Amtrak is not profitable at all and is seeing sharp declines and there is no such thing as a profitable railroad in the United States(I don't know if this is actually true or these guys are clueless). I ride Amtrak all the time and I would hate to see them disappear, intercity rail is my preferred method of travel.
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It just leaves me very curious because I love railroads and the male side of my family has either been in the military or worked for the railroad for generations, I'd hate to see them fade away into history.
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Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
I think it is generally acknowledged that Amtrak does not pay for itself and relies on government subsidies to continue functioning .

I am not an accountant or economist, but I think I can safely say that far as freight railroads, one would have to look at each railroad to see whether or not it turns a profit. I would not rely on just one generalized statement in a railroad forum but would research the topic further if it interests you. Trains magazine is one source of information.
In a word, it's hardly dying. In the west, BNSF and UP are both doing quite well and turning decent profits. I suspect that each of the class I railroads are doing well. That being said, there are likely short lines in trouble, as always.
Amtrak wasn't ever set up as a money making enterprise. It is and was intended to save at least a portion of passenger rail. Once the mail contracts were gone, the big roads couldn't get rid of the mail (passenger) service fast enough. Remember that passenger trains, especially long haul, are very expensive to operate. My own feeling is that Amtrak's main problem, aside from the penury and entertainment in the other Washington, is it doesn't operate enough trains, nor does it have a reliable record of being on time, at least out of the eastern corridor, parts of California, and the Vancouver-Seattle-Portland arena. In order to succeed, they need greatly increased funding and a rule giving them highest priority nationwide on the track they operate over. Bottom line is that Amtrak is one of those necessary things that the federal government must be funding to level where people will utilize it. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to