Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Gil Carmichael Reports-Time to put Amtrak up for sale

Gil Carmichael Reports.


… In my opinion, the two most logical companies to consider buying Amtrak are FedEx and UPS. FedEx, for example, bought the old Railroad Express Agency and operates their company under that charter. UPS talked to Amtrak several years ago about running express and packages on long distance schedule trains but did not pursue the project. There are other things happening in the transportation world that supports FedEx and UPS buying Amtrak. First, as mentioned, the commuter airline industry is disappearing rapidly as the airlines concentrate on jumbo jets and longer flights that skip many regional areas that FedEx and UPS already serve. You can’t fill the big planes with 20-30 small commuter planes and neither can UPS or FedEx fill their big planes with small ones. Take revenues from FedEx and UPS and add it to increasing intercity passenger rail revenues and you have a profitable venture!



Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

3 Responses

  1. Steve A says:

    The biggest problem with the projected buyer is that neither has the slightest inclination to move people – only freight. If they wanted to buy a RR, they’d buy BNSF or UP.

  2. gblatham says:

    40-sum-odd years ago, one of the typical arguments against the continued operation of passenger service by the Class Is was the presumed unfairness in forcing the freight side of our industry to underwrite varnish’s losses. Such an approach (supposedly?) undermined both capital investment and technological advancement, placed an undue burden upon shippers (by artificially inflating their freight rates) and captured funds which could have been used in other ways (including, to be perfectly candid, shareholder remuneration).

    Now, we’re supposed to believe that United Parcel and Federal Express, with eyes wide open, will freely _choose_ to “take revenues” generated by their currently profitable operations and dedicate that money to support intercity passenger train services? And Wall Street (et al) will simply sit back and watch it happen?!

    And precisely how would the Class Is benefit from all of this?

    Gil’s heart may be in the right pace, but I think he’s WAY off base.

    Garl Boyd Latham
    Dallas, Texas

    P.S. Joe “It’s-All-The-Long-Distance-Train’s-Fault” Boardman is NOT doing “fine work”!


  3. LoboSolo says:

    As a former employee at FedEx, I don’t see how rail would fit into their operations unless it was a maglev with spurs to their sorting facilities for their express freight. There would be SOME opportunity to use it for their slower services where they truck freight but I don’t kno if it would be worth the money.

    Aside from that, FedEx and UPS are interested in moving freight and not folks. Somehow I don’t think the existing freight rail companies would be happy to forced to share their rails with a company that gave lip service to passengers while focusing on freight.

    FedEx runs a limited sked to move freight and so the trains would have to fit in with that sked. Most of the domestic flights are in the wee hours of the morning. So I don’t think they’d be very interested in Amtrak.

    Aside from that, FedEx is mostly non-union.

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November 2011


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