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Rail News: Amtrak

Amtrak reports higher losses, steady ridership for FY2015


Amtrak's ridership and ticket revenue slipped slightly in fiscal-year 2015 compared with the previous year, as the railroad dealt with service disruptions in the Northeast Corridor, significant weather events and lower gas prices, Amtrak officials announced yesterday.

Amtrak's FY2015 unadjusted operating loss was $306.5 million, up from a $230 million operating loss in FY2014.

Amtrak posted unaudited ticket revenue of $2.2 billion, down 0.1 percent for the fiscal-year ending Sept. 30, 2015. The railroad logged a ridership of 30.8 million for the year, also down 0.1 percent compared with FY2014.

Unaudited total revenue for the year came in at $3.2 billion, down 1 percent compared with FY2014.

The railroad covered 91.1 percent of operating costs with ticket sales and other revenue, Amtrak officials said in a press release.

"This year's financial results show the resiliency of a company that faced a range of challenges and underscored the loyalty of our customers even during a period of low gas prices," said Amtrak Chairman Tony Coscia.

Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman noted that the railroad has carried more than 30 million passengers for five consecutive years. Amtrak trains carried 11.7 million passengers in the Northeast Corridor (NEC) in FY2015, a 5 percent increase over the previous year.

The NEC's Northeast Regional service saw a 1.5 percent increase, which set a ridership record, Amtrak officials said.

"This past year we continued to take America to where it needs to go, providing transportation to more than 30.8 million customers, which reflects continued strong demand and the value of our services," said Boardman. "However, critical investment is needed to ensure future growth of intercity passenger rail."

In particular, Amtrak has cited the need for its "Gateway" infrastructure program, which calls for the construction of a new Hudson River rail tunnel system between New Jersey and New York.

Under a recently announced agreement, Amtrak will work in partnership with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to form the Gateway Development Corp., which will begin work on that project.

In terms of service disruptions in 2015, Amtrak's losses were attributed in part to the May derailment in Philadelphia that resulted in eight fatalities. In addition, the railroad dealt with power outages and suspended service for several days in the NEC last summer.