Amtrak is looking to break even for the first time since it was created 50 years ago.
National Railroad Passenger Corporation President and CEO Richard Anderson said the federally owned passenger railroad had an annual unaudited operating loss of $29.8 million in 2019 during his Nov. 13 testimony before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
But the passenger rail service logged a $3.3 billion profit last year, Anderson said. And it managed to improve earnings by $140.9 million, or 82.6 percent over 2018, he testified.
"Looking at other domestic and foreign passenger rail operators, these results are truly industry-leading, and this efficiency enables us to dedicate the highest possible proportion of our federal support to vital capital investments in safety, capacity and upgrades to enhance our customers' experience while traveling," he added.
While Amtrak has received tens of billions of dollars in federal subsidies since the 1970s, Anderson has a long-term goal to break even, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
Skeptics of goals for the railroad service say trying to reach profitability will ultimately cause Amtrak to suffer, according to the Journal.
"I think part of the problem we’re dealing with is the original mandate from Congress, which said that this is supposed to be run as a for-profit corporation," Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., the House Transportation Committee chair, said according to the Journal. "I think they should think about efficiency but not profit … Amtrak is a service, and it can be a better service."
However, breaking even is the only way for Amtrak to improve its service for customers across the nation, Anthony Coscia, Amtrak Board of Investors chair, told the Journal.