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Rail News: Amtrak

Amtrak ridership tops 25.8 million, revenue reaches $1.5 billion in FY07

Amtrak's streak of record-breaking years now stands at five. In fiscal-year 2007, the national intercity passenger railroad carried a record-high number of passengers as ridership and ticket revenue exceeded FY2006's figures.

During the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, Amtrak carried 25.85 million passengers, up 3.3 percent compared with FY2006's 24.31 million. The total also topped Amtrak's previous record of 25.03 million passengers set in 2004, before the railroad transitioned some services to a commuter rail operator.

The railroad also posted its highest-ever ticket revenue at $1.5 billion, an 11 percent increase compared with FY06's $1.37 billion. Including other income from contract services, Amtrak's total FY07 revenue was $2.2 billion.

"Highway and airway congestion, volatile fuel prices, increasing environmental awareness and a need for transportation links between growing communities are some of the factors that make intercity passenger rail extremely relevant in today's world," said Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Alex Kummant in a prepared statement. "Our record setting ridership and ticket revenue in FY07 indicate the stage is set for Amtrak to take on a role as not only a contributor to the nation's transportation network, but as a leader among modes."

Revenue growth was the greatest in the Northeast, where it reached $829.3 million, a 14 percent increase compared with last year's ticket revenue. The main reason? The increasing popularity of Amtrak's Acela Express service, which recorded a 20 percent increase in ridership (3.1 million passengers) and 23 percent climb in ticket revenue ($403.5 million) compared with FY06's totals.

Other FY07 highlights:

• On Amtrak's Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service corridor, ridership was up by 55.8 percent for state of Illinois-supported trains and 42 percent for the corridor, with a total of 477,888. Ridership between Chicago and Carbondale was up by 67.4 percent for the state-supported trains and 46 percent for the corridor, totaling 263,809. For the Chicago-Galesburg-Quincy route, ridership gained 41.4 percent for state-sponsored trains and 33 percent for the route, with 194,535 passengers.

• Nearly 600,000 passengers rode Amtrak's Chicago-to-Milwaukee Hiawatha Service in FY07, an increase of 2.6 percent.

• The two state-supported routes in Michigan posted ridership increases: Grand Rapids-St. Joseph-Chicago Pere Marquette, by 3.1 percent, and the Port Huron-East Lansing-Chicago Blue Water, by 2.8 percent.

• In California, the Capitol Corridor service between Auburn and San Jose carried more than 1.4 million passengers in FY07, a 15 percent increase compared with the same period last year. Ticket revenue topped $18 million, a 21 percent increase compared with FY2006's total. And at $46 million, the San Diego-San Luis Obispo Pacific Surfliner posted a 9 percent increase in ticket revenue.

• Among the trains on the Amtrak national network, the Empire Builder again was the most popular overnight train. With more than a half-million passengers, the daily Chicago-St. Paul-Seattle/Portland train carried more than 500,000 passengers in FY2007, an increase of 1.6 percent compared with FY2006.

• The Auto Train, which operates between the Washington, D.C, and Orlando, Fla., areas, posted a ridership increase of 5 percent compared with FY2006's totals.

• Long-distance trains recording above-average ridership performances include the New Orleans-Tucson-Los Angeles Sunset Limited (up 22.1 percent), Chicago-Albuquerque-Los Angeles Southwest Chief (up 5.4 percent) and Chicago-Memphis-New Orleans City of New Orleans (up 3 percent). In addition, the New York-Miami Silver Service trains (Silver Meteor-Silver Star) achieved ridership gains of 6.9 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively, and the Palmetto's passenger number jumped by 7.5 percent compared with FY2006's total.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/25/2007