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Study: Government subsidies for Amtrak higher than stated

WASHINGTON (AP) - Amtrak is apparently understating the amount of money it needs from the government.

In fact, the study group Subsidyscope says taxpayers spent about $32 for each Amtrak passenger in 2008. That's about four times Amtrak's official estimate.

Amtrak serves more than 500 destinations in 46 states, but 41 of Amtrak's 44 routes lost money last year. The loss leader was the Sunset Limited, from San Antonio to Los Angeles, where the subsidy is $462 per passenger.

In contrast, the Northeast corridor has the highest passenger volume, greatly enhancing efficiency. The high-speed Acela Express made a profit of about $41 per passenger.

But the U.S. is not unique. Passenger rail systems throughout the world lose money and require government funding to keep them running.

An analyst says the study could help guide decisions on how to spend $8 billion set aside for high-speed and intercity rail in the economic stimulus bill.


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