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Amtrak on track to break even for first time in company history, executives say

Thomas Barrabi

Amtrak said it is on track to break even for the first time in company history in fiscal 2020 as record ridership led to an improvement in its financial results.

The government-owned rail carrier said 32.5 million riders took trips on Amtrak trains during its fiscal year ending in Sept. 2019, with its northeast corridor and state-supported lines experiencing record growth. The total marked a company record and an increase of 800,000 riders compared to one year earlier.

“We are growing and modernizing Amtrak. We have an industry-leading safety program and have invested billions in improving the customer experience, resulting in more people choosing Amtrak as their preferred mode of transportation,” said Amtrak Board Chair Tony Coscia. “These changes have put us on track to breakeven in 2020, which would be a first in Amtrak’s history.”

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Amtrak reported an operating loss of $29.8 million, the best result in company history and a significant improvement over its $170.6 million operating loss in fiscal 2018 Total operating revenue rose 3.6 percent to $3.3 billion.

In its 48 years in existence, Amtrak has never turned a profit. The break-even point would not include the cost of Amtrak’s efforts to maintain its infrastructure, according to the Wall Street Journal. Amtrak spent more than $700 on infrastructure repairs and replacements over the last year.

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“We listened, we invested, we improved, and our customers are noticing a difference,” said Amtrak President & CEO Richard Anderson. “And we are not stopping. We have an aggressive plan to continue to advance our safety program, refresh train interiors, improve amenities, and renew stations and infrastructure.”

Amtrak executives also touted the company’s advancements on safety, including its implementation of a safety management system and federally-mandated positive train control, which automatically slows trains to prevent accidents.

The company said its safety improvements let to a 26 percent drop in customer incidents in fiscal 2019. Serious employee injuries dropped by 72 percent.

Amtrak said “nearly all” of its tracks have integrated positive train control systems, which can help automatically stop a train to avoid collisions or derailments.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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