NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – In an effort to improve Amtrak service between major cities along the East Coast, a group of business leaders Tuesday proposed transferring ownership of the Northeast Corridor rail line to the federal government.

A study released Tuesday by the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University also calls for the creation of a partnership between the state and federal government, which would have policy control over the line.

Martin Robins, the center’s director, said the public corporation could be created by Congress and have the power to introduce new services. It would contract with Amtrak to manage the line.

The study, sponsored by the Newark Regional Business Partnership, also suggests that the states and federal government join together to fund future capital improvements on the line, which goes through Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Amtrak operates a nationwide passenger rail network, with 21,000 miles of routes in 46 states. Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor is the busiest railroad in North America, with more than 1,700 trains.

operating over some portion of the Washington-Boston route each day.

Amtrak has never made money in its 34-year history and an operating loss of more than $550 million was expected for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. The railroad has relied on government subsidies to cover its operating losses and has a debt of more than $3.5 billion.

Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black said a change in ownership won’t change the underlying funding needs or the process to obtain that funding.

“In the long-term, Amtrak recognizes that we need to work together with the states and federal government to build capacity and ensure a state of good repair,” he said.

Black said Amtrak has been working with the states individually and collectively to make sure that funding needs are met.


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