Amtrak trains keep breaking down, even after historic $66B taxpayer cash infusion. Where is the money being spent?

A new report from the Department of Transportation revealed that Amtrak, a federally chartered company, is still experiencing routine breakdowns and interruptions despite receiving tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer funds to continue operations, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported.

The passenger rail company was created in 1971 and has never turned a profit. Instead, it has relied on taxpayer dollars to remain operational. The company loses roughly $1 billion per year. According to documents obtained by Open the Books, despite losing money, the company paid its 19,000 workers an average salary of $121,000 for fiscal year 2022.

‘Without significant taxpayer support, Amtrak could not operate.’

The Biden administration has funneled billions of taxpayer dollars into the company, including announcing in November a $16.4 billion investment for rail system improvements for its Northeast Corridor. The funding will be used to rebuild tunnels and bridges as well as upgrade tracks, power systems, signals, and stations.

“If the Northeast Corridor shut down for a single day, it would cost the economy $100 million in lost productivity,” the White House previously stated.

The administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law earmarked $66 billion for rail improvements, which the administration boasted was the “largest investment” in Amtrak’s history. As part of this investment, the Biden administration allocated $3.07 billion to the California High-Speed Rail Authority. The project has not made significant progress since it was approved in 2008.

According to the White House, Biden envisions turning Amtrak into a “world-class passenger rail” experience. The investments aim to “ensure that train service is more convenient and climate-friendly than either driving or flying.”

Approximately 22.93 million traveled aboard Amtrak in fiscal year 2022, Statista reported. From January through December 2022, roughly 853 million passengers traveled with U.S. airlines.

The DOT’s latest report revealed that from 2021 through July 9, 2024, Amtrak experienced 333 incidents nationwide, slightly fewer than the 397 incidents that occurred during the Trump administration between 2016 and July 2020, the DCNF reported.

Since Biden took office, there have been 66 derailments, 84 obstructions, 115 incidents involving trains crossing over roadways, five fires or “violent ruptures,” and 54 events described as “other.”

A recent power outage from a malfunctioning circuit breaker interrupted service between New York and Boston last week. WCBS reported that the outage impacted all tracks between Penn Station in New York and Union Station in New Haven, Connecticut.

“Amtrak is communicating directly with customers impacted by these adjustments and offering options for rebooking their travel plans,” the company stated. “Amtrak apologizes for any inconvenience caused by the disruption.”

Last month, Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner addressed the rail company’s recent service interruptions, stating, “We understand the impact the recent events had on both Amtrak and NJ Transit customers and their families, and we share their frustration.”

“It’s vital we work with NJ Transit to identify the root cause of these disruptions and return to on-time service and the quality experience customers expect,” Gardner added.

On Monday afternoon, an Amtrak train headed from Kansas City, Missouri, to Chicago, Illinois, derailed. According to the company, a tree on the tracks caused the incident. KCTV reported no injuries.

Last year, House Republicans proposed legislation to cut Amtrak’s funding. The Biden administration rejected the cuts, calling them “draconian.”

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure argued, “Without significant taxpayer support, Amtrak could not operate.”

Neither Amtrak nor the DOT responded to a request for comment from the DCNF.

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