WASHINGTON — Amtrak President Joseph Boardman told the Senate Appropriations Committee May 17 that Amtrak will never “be able to cut costs enough on long-distance trains to make them profitable. It becomes more a question of policy whether we are going to have border-to-border, coast-to-coast connectivity.”
Boardman urged the lawmakers not to cut back on long-distance train subsidies, which he said would deprive a significant area of the country with train travel that is essential to rural Americans without airport options.
The Amtrak CEO also testified that he wants to increase security patrols of the nation’s rail passenger network — much of it owned by freight railroads over which Amtrak trains travel — using new technologies, including ultrasonic and laser devices, to provide advance pinpoint warning of track tampering in the face of elevated terrorist concerns.
He warned lawmakers that trains are more vulnerable to attack than commercial airliners because terrorists have widespread access to the track, bridges and tunnels used by passenger trains.
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