To reduce Amtrak's losses, it's not a cost problem Amtrak has, it is a revenue problem. Lets say all cars in Hialeah, Chicago, Beech Grove, Bear, Wilmington, etc. got fixed and repaired and made to serviceable condition. Amtrak has NEVER done a deep analysis to figure out the overall function and revenue opportunity it may have with
- food service (be it traditional dining, cafe service, or some other hybrid).
- accommodation service (sleeper, coach, business class, or creating a "touring class" or slumber coach option that may look more like the first class airplane sleeper pods.
- amenities/other support service offering (observation car, onboard experience enhancements).
- add-on and upcharges that could be sold as part of the travel experience to garner more revenue.
I believe Brian Rosenwald was on to something when creating the Pacific Parlor Car (to grow the Coast Starlight revenue) and even Gunn when he was trying to launch "enhanced" service on the Empire Builder. Don't get me wrong, still need basic coach service, and not saying to create a private rail car experience either. But there's elements to both that could be borrowed to at least grow revenue without creating a cost burden.
They've never looked to ensure a standardization of sorts between the various train lines (e.g. NEC, LD, State Supported trains). And trains need different offerings between NEC and LD, etc. I think it is silly to even say the Coast Starlight has a "business class car." Are business folks really the clientele as the name implies? It's a misnomer. Custom Class, Touring Class, Premium Coach, or something else would perhaps make sense, especially to the first time rider who has no context.
Not saying it's required, just saying it would help to strengthen the Amtrak brand and revenue opportunities its missing out. Claytor and Gunn I think said it best - you lower your losses by growing top line revenue. Starving the trains by cost cutting over the years has not elevated the overall service nor made Amtrak a more attractive transportation option. Amtrak teeters on being a bus service on wheels at times.......Its not sustainable. With business travel being transformed as a result of the pandemic, Amtrak is going to have a new set of marketing challenges to attract passengers to its Acela brand in the coming years (even with new equipment to be deployed - next year, this year???).