If the long distance trains are a critical for small town America, how come they don't serve the following communities in Texas: Abilene, Midland, Odessa, Corpus Christi, Harlingen, Brownsville, McAllen, Amarillo, and Lubbock? All these cities have substantial populations. Their only commercial passenger transport services are provided by buses or airlines. The argument that Amtrak’s long distance trains provide a vital service that could not be provided by buses or better air service is not supported by the data.
Meanwhile, the long distance trains have been the largest contributor to Amtrak’s continuing operating losses for decades. Whereas the NEC and the State Support trains have the potential to cover most if not all of their fully allocated costs, I cannot think of anyone who believes that the long distance trains will ever get there.
The answer to the regional political support argument is simple. Privatize Amtrak. It probably could make a go of it in the NEC, especially if an third party took control of the infrastructure. And several of the state corridors, with the right price and expense controls, probably could make a go of it in their corridors. But the long distance trains probably will never make a go of it.
Why should the federal government be in the passenger railroad business? It let numerous airlines and at least one major intercity bus company fold because they failed. It did not establish a national airline or a national bus company. It should get out of the railroad passenger business.