Situated perfectly in that sweet spot is the Northeast Corridor, the lifeblood of Amtrak's system. The route connects Boston to New York to Washington — each leg less than 250 miles. Both parties say if there's any hope for Amtrak's future, it's along that bustling corridor.
Cutting subsidies would almost surely mean jettisoning the long-distance routes that connect far-flung parts of the country, and few members of Congress want to see their districts lose connectivity to the transportation grid.
In a surprise move, the GOP-controlled House in June boosted Amtrak's overall funding by $384 million, offsetting reductions in operating subsidies with new money to repair bridges and tunnels. In its funding request for next year, Amtrak asked Congress for less money for operating costs than it received this year, citing an improving financial situation.
A recent report to Congress from Amtrak's inspector general said the company was making progress on many fronts. One suggestion investigators said Amtrak had failed to take up: adding more special trains to help reduce its reliance on federal subsidies.
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