NEC Upgrades: Andrew Selden responds to Progressive Railroading Train traffic congestion in the NEC reflects mostly the overload of regional commuter trains taking advantage of the severely under-priced federal infrastructure of the NEC. (Amtrak’s capital subsidies include somewhere in the range of $200 million a year in direct subsidy to the regional agencies for facilities and capacity that are of no use to Amtrak.) Bring SEPTA’s and NJT’s track rents up to true market rates and the train congestion will abate in a big hurry. And to the extent that Amtrak itself contributes to train congestion, it is largely its own operating practices that are responsible. Amtrak does not need to send four or more short (5-6 car), more than half-empty, NEC trains up the corridor in peak hours when two longer (10-car) trains would suffice, and STILL have sub-50% load factors..
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