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Rail News: Amtrak

Amtrak tops 30 million riders in FY2011


In fiscal-year 2011, which ended Sept. 30, Amtrak’s ridership rose 5 percent to an all-time-high 30.2 million riders — the eighth time in the past nine fiscal years that annual ridership set a record, Amtrak officials said in a prepared statement. Ticket revenue rose 8 percent year over year to $1.9 billion.

Factors contributing to ridership growth included high gasoline prices, continued growth in business travel on Acela Express trains in the Northeast Corridor, increased interest in rail travel and “effective marketing campaigns,” Amtrak officials said.

Twenty-six out of 44 Amtrak routes set a ridership records, with seven — up from five a year ago — transporting more than 1 million passengers.

Ridership for the Northeast Regional service between Boston and Washington, D.C., “was the best year ever” and Acela Express posted its second-best year, Amtrak officials said.

All three of Amtrak’s main business lines registered ridership growth in FY2011: the Northeast Corridor and state-supported and short-distance routes set new records, and long-distance trains had their “best ridership in 16 years,” they said.

“We thank … our state partners for working with us to develop the kind of service that attracts ever increasing numbers of riders,” said Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman. “Amtrak is fulfilling its national mission and is part of the solution to meet America’s growing transportation and energy needs.”

Amtrak’s ridership gains prompted the top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to criticize House Republicans’ legislative proposals to privatize Amtrak.

“Americans are returning to the rails in record numbers, yet Republicans are pulling out all the stops in their rush to auction off Amtrak’s assets to the highest bidder on Wall Street,” said Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W. Va.). “It makes no sense to tear apart a railroad and its workforce while they are succeeding at their jobs.”