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Coming & Going: Amtrak's costs, new flights to India

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Train troubles

Amtrak just can't seem to get back on track. According to an analysis by Subsidyscope, an arm of the Pew Charitable Trusts, 41 of Amtrak's 44 routes lost money in 2008.

In the Northeast corridor, which has the highest passenger volume, the Northeast Regional train lost almost $5 per passenger. The high-speed Acela Express, which has half as many passengers, fared better, making a profit of $41 per person, Subsidyscope found.

The Sunset Limited route between New Orleans and Los Angeles was the biggest loser, with a $462 loss per passenger.

Subsidyscope calculated that U.S. taxpayers spent an average of $32 subsidizing an Amtrak passenger. Amtrak had previously reported that figure as $8. Subsidyscope took certain expenses, such as wear and tear on equipment, into account when doing its calculation, while Amtrak did not.

In October 2008, Congress passed legislation granting Amtrak a subsidy of $1.5 billion a year for five years.

From Dulles to Delhi

Here's some good news for frequent travelers to India: Starting Dec. 1, Air India will offer daily direct service from Dulles International Airport to New Delhi with its new Boeing 777LRs. The flights will leave Washington at 12:10 p.m., stop at New York's JFK Airport, then continue nonstop to Delhi with a 4:45 p.m. arrival the next afternoon. Passengers trying to get to Kolkata can continue on. Passengers bound for Mumbai can transfer to a nonstop evening flight from JFK.

"Travel to Delhi, whether for business or leisure, has just become much more convenient and comfortable," said C. Sarkar, Air India's executive director for the Americas, in a written statement.

All the flights will have economy, executive and first-class service. Economy seats will have a 34-inch seat pitch, a footrest and built-in 10.6-inch LCD monitor. Executive seats come with flat beds, a 76-inch seat pitch, a privacy partition and 15.4-inch LCD screen. First-class passengers will have flat bed compartments with a built-in massage system, 80-inch seat pitch and a 23-inch LCD screen. All passengers will have access to Indian or Continental cuisine and complimentary liquor services.

For more information, call Air India at 800-223-7776 or visit http://www.airindia.in.

Travel ticker

From Nov. 1 to Nov. 7, American Airlines passengers can get free WiFi service on any WiFi-equipped plane. To get the Lexus-sponsored Gogo Inflight Internet access on your laptop, smartphone or handheld PDA, enter the code 2010LEXUSLS. . . . The International Civil Rights Center & Museum in the historic F.W. Woolworth building in Greensboro, N.C., will open for visitors on Feb. 1, half a century after four N.C. A&T College students began a six-month sit-in to protest segregation at the Woolworth's lunch counter. The Smithsonian has an eight-foot portion of the counter as well as stools from the store. But the actual stools used in the protest, along with most of the counter, remain in Greensboro. For more information: http://www.sitinmovement.org.

Reporting: Nancy Trejos. Help feed CoGo. Send travel news, road reports and juicy tattles to: cogo@washpost.com. By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.

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