I have pointed out that since Amtrak was formed historically service, especially among LD routes, has been cut more than it has been grown. I certainly am not opposed to growth in general and discussed my own wish list: http://discuss.amtra...ice-expansions/. Then again, that wish list was under the assumption that money was not an issue and we all know it is.
On the other hand, after the cuts in the late 90's (Desert Wind, Pioneer, among others), Amtrak had proposed a "Network Growth Strategy" (http://www.gao.gov/n...tems/d02398.pdf) to grow service rather than cut it. The strategy was consistent to the philosophy of growing Amtrak rather than cutting it would improve financial performance, a commonly agreed upon strategy at AU. Elements of the strategy included several of the proposals for increased service since I came to AU including the Crescent Star. Amtrak was only able to implement three of its proposed route and service actions and two of them were canceled. The only one that still exists today was the increase of the Texas Eagle to daily service (between Chicago and San Antonio that is). In addition to the Crescent Star, others included the extension of the Silver Meteor to Boston, a New York-Chicago train via Canada, extension of Michigan service to Toledo, adding service between Jacksonville and Miami via the FEC, and a reroute of the Sunset Limited to bypass San Antonio and go from El Paso to Ft. Worth via Abilene (not sure of the exact reroute, comments welcomed). In fact, the report suggested a Skyline (Manhattan Limited) service in the days the Three Rivers was still running:) The Skyline Connection with schedule made it into the May 2000 national timetable:http://www.timetables.org/browse/?group=20000521n&item=0030. Amtrak had also advertised Boston/Springfield through service would begin in Summer 2000: http://www.timetables.org/full.php?group=20000521n&item=0034. I would say that these routes (with the assumption that the Three Rivers doesn't exist today) are two of my biggest if not the two biggest priorities on my wish list (I would say Michigan-NEC would be up there with the Boston/Florida service for second and Crescent Star right behind).
The 2002 report from the GAO (General Accounting Office) sounded critical of the NGS. A response from NARP follows defending it. The author of the GAO report cited the main reasons that Amtrak failed to implement most of the routes were an overestimation of mail revenue and the inability to negotiate with host railroads (what else is new?)
The goal of AU/NARP/other rail advocacy groups/Amtrak itself should be to come up with a more successful "Network Growth Strategy" even though the chances of it succeeding seem less certain, especially if the feared budget cuts come to pass. Underestimating mail revenue is a non factor today but the host railroad negotiation still is. If mail revenue was a big factor in the decision to implement the NGS, that is another factor working against it today. Also, I don't remember if Amtrak had the equipment back in 1999 that it clearly doesn't have now.