Just a little while ago, I watched the YouTube feed of the Flagstaff Amtrak station as the Southwest Chief arrived, bound for Los Angles.
A couple of people got on, a couple of people got off. The train had no baggage car, only one first class car and two coach cars.
Barely any sign of life in the dining and lounge cars.
Amtrak has lost 95% of its ridership during the pandemic. 95% of a ridership that was already anemic before the pandemic. And predictions are that ridership will only recover to 50% of pre-pandemic levels.
There is no possibility of making Amtrak’s long haul routes profitable or even break even. The last time the Southwest Chief was profitable was when it was called the Super Chief and run by the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad.
Simply put, there is very little consumer demand for the service that Amtrak provides. Amtrak could plausibly be made profitable along the Boston to Washington, D.C. corridor, but that is about it.
I would liquidate most of Amtrak, with most service to be shut down permanently in several months. I would allow a one time subsidy to upgrade passenger equipment along the Boston to D.C. corridor and that would be it. Amtrak would sink or swim and if they sink, that would be it.