Amtrak, the U.S. long-distance passenger railroad supported by taxpayers, narrowed its loss last year to $361 million, the smallest in 38 years.
While the railroad, based in Washington, needs to improve its infrastructure and operations, Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman said today on a conference call with reporters that he’s pleased with the results for the year ended Sept. 30.
The cash operating loss decreased 19 percent from the previous year and was the lowest since 1975, Steve Kulm, an Amtrak spokesman, said in an e-mail.
Amtrak had a net loss of $1.34 billion in the 2011 fiscal year. The railroad, created in 1971 to take over money-losing passenger operations from freight carriers, has never made an annual profit. Its taxpayer subsidies -- about $1.4 billion last fiscal year for capital expenses and some operations -- have been criticized by some congressional Republicans.
Boardman announced the 2012 results today on a call that was about the railroad’s plans for capital projects and service improvements this year. Amtrak hasn’t released its fiscal 2012 financial statements yet.
The railroad plans to upgrade its wireless Internet service, or Wi-Fi, to faster 4G technology on its trains beginning with the Acela Express between Washington and Boston, Boardman said. He said he doesn’t know when the faster Internet connection will be available.
“If it’s in testing, it ought to be pretty darn soon,” he said.
Amtrak plans to take delivery this year of the first part of previous orders for 70 electric locomotives and 130 single-level passenger cars, it said today in an e-mailed statement.
The railroad announced last month that this year it will seek bids to replace its 12-year-old fleet of 20 Acela trains. It wants to first expand the number of high-speed trains to increase service and capacity.
The Acela service carried about 3.4 million passengers and produced about a fourth of Amtrak’s $2 billion in ticket revenue for the year ended Sept. 30.