Amtrak Lost More Than $100 Million on Three Long Haul Routes Out of New Orleans in 2012

Big gains in the Northeast and ridership up 55 percent since 1997 but still a money loser


Despite talk in recent years that the increased hassles of air travel—intrusive security checks, jam-packed planes, ever-rising fees for baggage—were driving more Americans to take the train, the shift for those traveling long distances has been minor, a new study suggests. Although Amtrak's ridership rose by 55 percent between 1997 and 2012, nearly half of its fiscal year 2012 business was in the Northeast, and 67 percent of its passengers rode on trains traveling less than 400 miles.

The three long-distance Amtrak trains that serve New Orleans—the Sunset Limited to and from Los Angeles, the City of New Orleans to and from Chicago and the Crescent to and from New York—carried a total of 658,000 passengers in 2012, including those who took the trains for relatively short distances, and together lost more than $100 million.