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Thursday, May 02, 2013    

Amtrak reaches 42-year mark


Yesterday, Amtrak marked 42 years of service as the nation's intercity passenger railroad.

"With record ridership and strong financial performance, Amtrak is successfully fulfilling its national mission and daily demonstrating its value to the country," said Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman in a press release.

Amtrak has set new ridership records in nine of the past 10 years; carried an all-time record of 31,240,565 riders in fiscal-year 2012; increased ridership 49 percent from FY2000 to FY2012; and set a systemwide on-time perforce record of 83 percent in FY2012, Amtrak officials said.

Amtrak's financial picture also has improved, including a record $2 billion in ticket revenue in FY2012. Also, the railroad covered 88 percent of operating costs in FY2012 with ticket sales and other revenue, which reduced the federal operating subsidies to 12 percent; and cut its debt by 60 percent between FY2002 and FY2012.

Boardman also outlined the railroad's future challenges. Among them is a continued lack of funding and "multiple layers of oversight" that have been added to what Congress intended to be a private company carrying out public policy, he said.

"It is time for dedicated, multi-year federal operating and capital funding for Amtrak and intercity passenger rail," said Boardman.

If Congress provides the railroad with predictable and needed funding levels, Amtrak and its state partners "can better deliver a future of improved reliability, enhanced capacity, more service, increased speeds and reduced trip times on the Northeast Corridor and other passenger-rail corridors around the country, including the development of new ones," he added.

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