Amtrak Says It Needs $1.475 Billion in Supplemental Funding

Secaucus Junction
An Amtrak train passes through Secaucus Junction in Secaucus, N.J., in February 2016. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

Amtrak says it needs an additional $1.475 billion in supplemental funding for the 2021 fiscal year.

The passenger railroad outlined its request in a letter it submitted to Congress.

Officials say the additional funding is needed for Amtrak to maintain minimum service levels across its network and continue capital investments for the future. The funds would also support Amtrak’s 17 state partners on the National Network and nine commuter and state partners on the Northeast Corridor.

“As the severity and duration of this pandemic and its economic fallout become clearer, we are seeking supplemental federal funding for the next fiscal year,” Amtrak President and CEO Bill Flynn said in the letter.

To help offset the impact of revenue losses, Amtrak is taking significant steps to reduce its operating costs by approximately $500 million, including temporarily reducing train capacity across our system to match demand, restructuring our workforce, and controlling discretionary expenses. Yet even with these steps, Amtrak still requires additional federal investment in FY 2021.

“It is clear that Amtrak faces daunting challenges in Fiscal Year 2021, which will require us to take action to protect our rail network, our critical capital assets, and the livelihoods of our employees,” Flynn said in the letter.

With strong ridership and revenue levels in the first quarter of the 2020 fiscal year, Amtrak said it was on track for another record-breaking year. However, Amtrak has experienced a dramatic decline in demand for service since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials expect ridership to only return to roughly 50 percent in the 2021 fiscal year.

The $1.475 billion is in addition to Amtrak’s $2.040 billion annual grant request submitted to Congress earlier this year, and without this support, Amtrak will be unable to minimize the impacts to service and its workforce as described in the letter.